TopYaps Rating: 3.5/5
How often do we get to see movies which leave a lasting impression on our mind even with the sheer absence of so-called “entertainment” quotient in them?
Bolo Bolo! I know, it happens very rarely. But Manto is that film. It doesn’t titillate you the way regular commercial potboilers do, but it does provide some sort of delirious stimulation to mind, which makes it a must watch.
So, let me tell you ki film hai kaisi! Kya banata hai isko so special?
As the title of the film suggests itself, Manto revolves around Indo-Pakistani writer Saadat Hasan Manto, who thrived on Indian soil before the great country was divided into Hindustan and Pakistan.
Bombay-based Manto (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) is a free, progressive writer who writes what he sees happening in front of his eyes. His stories might be tinged with sensationalism, but they are true to the core. No pressure, political or otherwise, can force fearless Manto to change his words, in spite of the fact that he writes with a pencil and not a pen.
After partition, Manto decides to live in India with his wife Safia (Rasika Dugal) and a small circle of creatively-inclined people that include superstar of tomorrow Shyam Chanda (Tahir Raj Bhasin) and Ismat Chughtai (Rajshri Deshpande), etc., braving communal disharmony spreading across both sides of the border. But something happens that triggers him to leave India.
When he reaches Pakistan, keeping Bombay in his heart, one of his stories Thanda Gosht gets charged for obscenity. Will Manto be able to prove in Court that the said story is not obscene? Will his wife Safia stand by him in thick and thin even when the going gets tough? What happens next forms the crux of the story.
Why You Should Not Miss The Film?
You don’t get to see opulent sets, designer clothes, and breathtakingly beautiful foreign locales in Manto. Agar aapko wahi sab dekhna hai toh it’s better that you wait for Karan Johar ki agali film.
Manto shows you what has the power to stir your soul. Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the title role wins you over with his realistic performance. If you ask me who else could have played this role better than him, the answer is no one.
Rasika Dugal as Safia is absolutely perfect. She plays her part convincingly. Tahir Raj Bhasin is also good in his character.
If we talk about other aspects of the film that empower it, Nandita Das’s writing is the complete winner. She keeps everything simple, without resorting to any sort of dialoguebaazi which many Hindi films are known to rely heavily upon.
Every single word said in the film makes sense. Even the silence at many places says so much that at times words fail to say. Cinematography and set designing are other areas where the film impresses.
The Off-track moment
The film deals with a lot of subjects at the same time. It talks about freedom of expression. It also throws light on how partition changed human lives so drastically. And then, there are a man’s efforts to save his family from the chaos.
Since there are too many issues to deal with, Manto doesn’t do full justice to a few of them. Though it’s not a lengthy movie, it could have been a little crispier, for sure.
Films like Manto don’t claim to cater to everyone’s taste. You need to be a little patient to imbibe the beauty of its slow and subtle narrative.
It’s a film filled with old world charm. So, if you feel you can sit through such films even in the 21st century, I don’t see any reason for you to miss Manto.
Banner: HP Studios, Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, Nandita Das Initiatives
Director: Nandita Das
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Rasika Dugal, Tahir Raj Bhasin, and, Shashank Arora
Music Director: Sneha Khanwalkar
Duration: 112 Minutes