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Ashdoc's Movie Review---manto

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Ashdoc's Movie Review---manto


Movie Critic
Jul 19, 2011

This movie is based on the life of Saadat Hasan Manto , who has written some moving as well as graphic accounts of partition . He was a scriptwriter for the Bombay film industry as well as a short story writer during the British era . Many from the left/liberal lobby were his friends , especially from the progressive writers' association . He was friends with Shyam Chadda , who was a rising star . Also he was friendly with Ashok Kumar .

But he decided to flee India as he felt his life was under threat in the post partition atmosphere , because he was a muslim . It was a painful decision to make , as he loved Bombay and sorely missed it . And post partition Lahore where he shifted to , was devastated due to partition riots .

Pained by all this , Manto increasingly took to drink . But his stories of partition really brought him into trouble , as they were too stark with foul language and graphically described sexual violence . He was tried in court for obscene writings . Many literary critics testified that his work was indeed literature . The judge himself concurred with them , but convicted Manto saying that his nation did not allow such writings to be published . But naturally , for that nation was Pakistan---an islamic fundamentalist nation !!

So trusting Pakistan to which Manto had come for saving himself from hindu mobs , proved to be his biggest mistake . I was not surprised on seeing this . Pakistan has proved to be the biggest mistake of others too--like the ahmadis , who played a big role in fomenting hatred against hindus and creating Pakistan , only to find themselves declared non muslim in Pakistan .
Had Manto remained in Bombay , the relatively liberal atmosphere of India would saved him from conviction for alleged obscene writings .

In the end alcoholism drove him to get himself admitted to a mental hospital . His story of Toba Tek Singh is about lunatics in a mental hospital . Muslim lunatics are to be sent to Pakistan and hindu and sikh lunatics to India . But a sikh lunatic called Toba Tek Singh decided to die in no man's land between the two countries . The man probably represented Manto himself , who lived in Pakistan but could never mentally separate himself from Bombay .

Nawazuddin Siddiqui has played Manto rather well . but the movie is art movie . It will be liked mostly by art movie lovers . I fancy myself as one of them and found the movie an okay watch . Background music is decent and songs are good . Photography is okay but colours are stark due to the stark scenes in the film , like the ruin of post partition Lahore .

Verdict---Okay .

Two and a half stars out of five .

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