Off-Topic: Manto (2018) Review

Off-Topic features articles about all the art forms excluding literature


Sacred Games’ Nawazuddin Siddiqui continues his epic form into Manto (2018), an Indian flick on the Pakistani writer Saadat Hasan Manto, written and directed by Nandita Das. The film mainly focuses on post-Partition India and how Manto was affected by the sudden division of the pro-Hindu and pro-Muslim countries.

Notable Aspects of the Film

  1. The point-of-view: Finally, we get to see the effects of Partition on society through an author’s eyes. Unlike most films on Partition where the prevalent theme is mostly patriotism, here literature and artistry move the plot along, making for one hell of a must-watch.
  2. The acting: Not only was Nawazuddin Siddiqui picked over Irrfan Khan for the lead role, but he does ample justice to it. The supporting cast was great too with surprise appearances from the likes of Paresh Rawal, Rishi Kapoor, and the acclaimed poet and screenwriter, Javed Akhtar.
  3. The screenplay: Despite Das’ filmmaking skills are not to be ignored, her script is what sets the movie apart from others, especially from the 2015 Pakistani by the same name. Not only were the events of Partition, Manto’s rise and fall in both his public and personal life, etc., showcased so effectively in just two hours, but there was still space in the running time depict his best-known stories such as Thanda Gosht and Toba Tek Singh as well.

In conclusion, Manto is an unparalleled, no-holds-barred take on a writer who moved to Lahore from Bombay, and whereas other Muslim authors preferred to write patriotic poetry and/or on topics like the plights of the newly-formed nations’ citizens, Saadat Hasan Manto upped the ante by focusing on those people in the society whose tales weren’t read about on paper. He wasn’t afraid of writing about the taboo; a stance which led him to being tried for obscenity in Pakistan for a record three times!



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