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Nawazuddin Siddiqui to play Saadat Hassan Manto in Nandita Das’ biopic

This was announced during the ongoing Cannes Film Festival where Siddiqui is present for the screening of his Raman Raghav 2.0 directed by Anurag Kashyap. This is the seventh film of Siddiqui to be presented at the renowned film festival.

The film will be produced by Vivek Kajaria under the banner of Holy Basil Production. This makes the Hindi debut for Kajaria after working on several Marathi films. They have also taken aboard US-based investor Robin Raina who is the chairman of a software company.

This will be the second film to be directed by Das after she made her debut with Firaaq in 2008 which star Naseeruddin Shah and received many positive reviews.

However, Das said is not a big Bollywood film neither a small independent film but she was pressured to cast a mainstream actor.

“I have Nawazuddin in mind from the very outset,” says Nandita Das of the Gangs of Wasseypur actor. “But I absolutely need the kind of nuances and depth that only Nawazuddin can deliver,” she adds.

Siddiqui rose from humble backgrounds to become a critically acclaimed actor and has also starred in films such as Bhajrangi Bhaijaan and The Lunchbox.  He has also bagged a small rile Dev Patel and Rooney Mara film Lion.

The shooting for the film is expected to take place in Mumbai and Lahore by the end of the year.  However, the film will not on the complete life of Manto but will cover the last decade of his life.  This is also important as it took part during the partition of the subcontinent.

‘Manto’s simple yet profound narratives are today as relevant as ever,’ said Das. “That is what draws me to him. He talks about everything I care for – freedom of expression, the question of identities thrust upon us, about wedges being driven between groups.”

She said her film ‘is an intimate retelling of the times, seen through the eyes of this intensely engaged writer. I am certain it will resonate with audiences around the world.’

Saadat Hasan Manto is considered one of the greatest short story writers in the history of South Asia. He was born in Samara, Ludhiana in present-day India and migrated to Lahore, Pakistan after partition is 1947.

He was often criticized for his writings which portrayed the darkness of the human psyche and the decline of humanist values during partition and satire which was on the verge of dark comedy.

Manto was tried for obscenity for six times during his life. He wrote about the taboos and the hypocrisy of the society. Manto had hit back at critics and has said ‘If you find my stories dirty, the society you are living in is dirty. With my stories, I only expose the truth.’

Manto died in 1955 aged just 42 years due to alcoholism. After being shunned for more than fifty years, Manto was awarded the Nishan-e-Imtiaz by the Government of Pakistan is 2012. He works continues to have an impact even today.

This is not the first time a biopic is being made on Saadat Hassan Manto. In 2015, a Pakistani biographical film directed by and starring Sarmad Sultan Khoosat was released. The critically acclaimed film which also included Sanam Saeed was produced while produced by Babar Javed and written by Shahid Nadeem.

The film was adapted on his short stories such as Thanda Ghost particularly Thanda Gosht, Madari, License, Hatak and Peshawar Se Lahore and also depicts his relationship with singer actress Noor Jehan.




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