“Jab gulaam the, toh azaadi ka khwab dekhte the,Aur ab azaad hai, toh kaunsa khwab dekhenge.”(When we were enslaved, we would dream of independence,Now that we are free, what will we dream of?”
The trailer for Nandita Das’ Manto was released, perhaps symbolically, on 15 August, 2018, marking the 72nd year of a “Free India”.
Starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Das’ biopic on Saadat Hasan Manto, a Pakistani writer, playwright, and author, who was born in Colonial India, and was famous for his stories on the “atrocious” truths marking the subcontinent post partition, has been on everyone’s must-watch list for a few months now.
The trailer showcases Manto’s struggle with the authorities, on a subject that is widely relevant in India, even 72 years later- censorship.
Manto was tried for “obscenity” on six different occasions, thrice before 1947, in India, and thrice after 1947, in Pakistan. However, he was never convicted for these charges.
The trailer opens with Manto’s quote:
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Nawazuddin, seen sporting the classic “Manto” look, in a white kurta-pyjama and rounded glasses, is seen talking about the intolerance that is bestowed upon his writing, on the simple fact that its based on the truth- something that society cannot stand to hear.
He’s heard making a cryptic comment on the status of women at that time, saying that his words are for those women who find themselves subjected to patriarchy, who are being “bought”- by men and by society- waiting for the day that they won’t be bothered anymore.
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While the trailer depicts the elite classes in India celebrating “freedom” from the British rule, Manto is seen fighting for freedom of speech and expression, while yet another court tries him for obscenity in his novel Cold Meat.
He is heard stating that while society looks at only the past, it completely ignores the fact that it is the “murderers” of the present, who are “writing history with blood and arms”.
The film starring actors such as Rishi Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Ila Arun, Ranvir Shorey, Rasika Dugal, Rajshri Deshpande and several others is set to hit theatres on 21 September.
The film also marks the acting debut of lyricist and screenwriter, Javed Akhtar.
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