Guest article by Nandita Das: Manto’s India… present, continuous, tense

In 2008, after I made Firaaq, my first movie, I wished to put in writing in regards to the expertise of creating the movie. That e book nonetheless stays in my head, although the recollections are getting foggier with time. Ten years later, as I completed making Manto, I wished to ensure that my journey didn’t fade away. There have been many tales hidden behind the six years of analysis and writing, and the making of the movie. Whereas I had shared a few of them with shut family and friends, and others via interviews and public conversations, there was nonetheless extra to inform. The e book is a stream of consciousness the place my artistic, emotional, socio-political, and religious experiences are all organically intertwined. I made a decision to name this deeply private journey, Manto & I.

Spirit of azaadi

From the time I began making the movie, Manto’s relevance has solely elevated. Greater than 70 years later, we’re nonetheless grappling with the identical problems with identification which are inextricably linked to caste, class, faith, and gender versus seeing the universality of human experiences. What resonated with me about Manto was his free spirit and his braveness to face up towards orthodoxy of all types. He fought six court docket instances for a similar works that we have fun right this moment. His tales have been a mirror to society and mirrored the struggles of the time and his lens at all times remained private and intimate. I subconsciously discover myself doing the identical.

Spreading ‘Mantoiyat’ – the will to be extra trustworthy, brave and free spirited – was one in every of my major causes for making the movie. Right this moment, artists, writers, activists, college students are all battling for freedom of expression. Because the nation protests to maintain the secular cloth of India, we’re reminded of the time of Partition and the way writers like Manto mirrored the strife via their work. I took refuge in telling his story to primarily reply to what’s taking place round us. Nothing warms my coronary heart greater than when folks see the parallels.

Because the nation protests, we’re reminded of the time of Partition and the way writers like Manto mirrored strife via their work

As I’m now immersing myself in different movies and characters, Manto continues to be my inspiration and my ethical compass to inform the tales I really feel should be advised. For me, Manto is not only the person or the author, however a frame of mind, a method of participating with and caring for the world we reside in. With Manto & I, I share a really treasured journey.

Story of a life

After I noticed the three,000 odd pictures taken by Aditya Varma, our on-set photographer, I knew it additionally needed to be an image e book. He had managed to seize the valuable moments of the movie and the insanity behind it. Although I’m positive he would agree that the wonderful work of the forged and crew and the areas we managed to shoot in had a big contribution to the magic of the photographs. There are additionally many which have been taken via different cameras and cell telephones, together with mine. After I began collating the pictures, snippets of my writings, quotes by Manto and responses from viewers, I didn’t realise how way more it could entail to place the e book collectively. There have been instances once I wished to desert it, however I’m glad I didn’t. Slowly, my recollections, reflections, dilemmas, struggles and little moments of euphoria started to seek out their method into the e book.

Saadat Hasan Manto (pictured above) fought six court docket instances for his writings, that are celebrated right this moment
Courtesy: The Manto household

In case you have seen the movie, I feel you’ll get pleasure from studying the whys and hows of creating it. Why I selected to intertwine Manto’s tales along with his personal life; why I centered on the interval between 1946 and 1950; how I managed to persuade a variety of actors to play cameos; how we recreated the Bombay and Lahore of the 1940s in right this moment’s trendy muddle and plenty of such questions are answered within the e book. And when you’ve got not seen the movie, I hope this e book piques your curiosity sufficient to wish to see it. I at all times discover it fascinating to observe painters, potters, musicians, dancers, or administrators at work as a lot as I’m enthralled by their ultimate expression. I feel it’s true that artwork and artist are inseparable.

I’ve been as candid as I may in sharing each, my moments of pleasure and the numerous challenges. However I’ve chosen to withhold some disappointments as they’re finest forgotten. I’m joyful for these recollections to fade away. It’s no cliché that errors and failings create studying alternatives and acknowledging them is the start of discovering options. And ‘letting go’ of issues not in my management was one of many greatest classes that again and again revealed itself to me. The angst and issues that I’ve taken the freedom to share are extra about methods that want to alter and prejudices that must be challenged. They aren’t rantings towards anybody particularly. I’ve sufficient causes to be grateful to my fantastic forged, crew, producers and different fellow travellers.

This e book took a lot of my time and far of myself, however now my Manto journey feels full.

Writer bio: An award-winning actress, Nandita Das has additionally directed movies like Firaaq and Manto. She’s garnered vital acclaim internationally and has additionally made her debut as an creator lately.

From HT Brunch, January 26, 2020

Comply with us on

Join with us on

285 thoughts on “Guest article by Nandita Das: Manto’s India… present, continuous, tense