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Nandita Das: Manto is very relevant today


Nandita Das: Manto is very relevant today, maybe he will invoke a certain desire in us to speak up more Nandita Das talks about her film Manto, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and why Saadat Hasan Manto is so relevant even today.

In this interview with, Nandita Das talks about her globally acclaimed film Manto and tells us why the writer is so relevant even today. Das also shares her thoughts on why it is important for her to own the tag of being a ‘woman director’.

Q. What made you take up this biopic?

Nandita-DasI had read Manto in college, but it was only in 2012 that I started reading his essays when the centenary celebrations started and a lot more came out about him. That’s when I realized that he is so relevant today. Whether it was about identity, you know how we are divided in the name of nationality, religion and caste. Or about freedom of expression, because he was tried six times for supposed obscenity in his writing. Or about displacement and the issue of where do you really belong. All these issues haven’t changed at all. So, I thought that it would be interesting to be able to lift a page from history and tell how it is giving us a chance to respond to what is happening today. That was the primary reason, then there were other reasons too. My father is very ‘Manto-esque’ and I often say that he is very blunt and has been a misfit in the art world. He is a painter. So I saw many parallels and I felt that I have lived a Manto life because you are not just talking about bigger ideas but trying to understand who Manto was. It is a story at the end of the day. A lot of young people don’t know who Manto was, which is really sad. I got to know recently that this is the first film on a writer from the subcontinent, from India. So, I think this is a story that definitely needs to be told.

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