Manto Movie review : Nawazudding Siddiqui starrer “Manto” brilliantly pours himself out!
Director – Nandita Das
Cast – Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Rasika Dugal, Rajshri Deshpande, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Rishi Kapoor, Paresh Rawal
Rating – ****(4/5)
Nandita Das film “Manto” is a gift to the fans of the author, especially literature graduates attempting to unravel Saadat Hasan Manto, wizard of the short story.
The movie starts off with the country at the brink of independence. The year is 1946 and Manto is and his luminary friends of the progressive artists’ movement are ruffling up some orthodox feathers. Struggling to get the fattest film industry cats to pay him what they owe him. The film closes with Manto in Lahore, paid in compliments and contraband ghee.
During the partition, he finds himself carrying both a Hindu topi and a Muslim topi to get out of sticky situations, but the struggle gets stickier. His calmness is illusory. The country is being ripped apart. Hindus and Muslims are questioning whether to live in the land where their ancestors are buried, or to leave it behind for a shaky promise of peace. Manto may smile, but he was unaware of the missing story, and doesn’t know when it will see the light.
Rasika Dugal shines so brightly as Manto’s wife that she threatens to hijack the production. Her role is a truism (that of the long-suffering wife) helplessly waiting for the drunkard husband to come home. He may write lines, but she draws them.
Like the character from his most famous story, Saadat Hasan Manto was no land’s man. It is a life measured out in messy glugs of whiskey, with the writer dreaming about the bars of unsafe Bombay while drinking the unsafe liquor of Lahore. He belonged to them both, as he does to all who read him.
This film appears less bound by fact, and as fiction it is impressionistic. The writer’s greatest hits feature prominently: he steps out for a smoke; one of his characters offers him a light. This is a sweet, romanticized mood piece.