Teaser for Nandita Das, Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s ‘Manto’ unveiled prior to Cannes screening


CANNES: As the makers presented Manto at the 71st Cannes Film Festival, they also revealed the first teaser of the film online late Saturday. Directed by Nandita Das, the film is based on author and playwright Saadat Hassan Manto, with acclaimed Nawazuddin Siddiqui essaying the role of the writer.

The short teaser takes us to the post-Independence era when the newborn country is grappled with poverty and corruption. With his body language, attitude and the tone of his voice, Nawazuddin paints the perfect picture of a rebel writer who never shies away from speaking the truth – be it to his family or the larger society. The teaser also glimpses of the court case against Manto that was filed for his short story, Thanda Ghosht.

Sharing the teaser, Nawazuddin tweeted, “First day in #FestivalDeCannes with the much-awaited #MantoTeaser #CannesWithManto.”

Nandita Das also shared the teaser for the film writing, “He wrote as he saw. He spoke as he thought.”

The film also features Abid Ali Abid as lyricist Javed Akhtar and Chandan Roy Sanyal as Manto’s close friend Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi. Rishi Kapoor has a small role of a film producer and Rajashri Deshpande plays Ismat Chughtai. Jaddanbai is being played by Ila Arun while Tillotama Shome essays the role of a prostitute.

The filmmakers reveal that Manto follows the most tumultuous four years of the author’s life and that of the two countries he inhabits – India and Pakistan.

Speaking at the teaser launch of Manto along with Nawazuddin, Rasika Dugal and Tahir Raj Bhasin, Nandita said Manto was not a message-driven film.

“The idea is to tell a story for the audience. We are not putting Manto on a pedestal. He was somebody who used to speak the truth despite all challenges he faced. For youth, it is extremely inspirational to see someone like him. I think it’s a film where the audience will be able to take home something and everyone will relate with his personality.”

When asked how Nawazuddin has been able to play the character of Manto in the film, she added: “He has similar kind of personality in terms of views, anger, arrogance, sensitivity and humour. I think it was smooth ride for Nawazuddin to play this character. He used to tell me that he would not be able to do another film simultaneously because he had immersed himself so deep into the character of Manto.”

Nandita, when asked whether the audience would be able to accept this across the border, told IANS: “It’s a story of a human being who happens to be a writer. There is no relation of borders between two countries. It’s a universal story. I think everyone will relate to this film on different levels. We are not offending anybody.”

Speaking to Pakistan Today, Manto’s daughter, Nuzhat on the film said, “Manto’s screening at Cannes is a big honour for a writer whose works were demonised by the intelligentsia, his peers and society but now are seeing widespread acceptance due to its reality. Cannes will get a glimpse into the controversial writer’s life and the struggles he went through to develop his identity as a scriptwriter in the Indian film industry.”

Manto has been selected to compete in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and Das in a Twitter post revealed that she was feeling extremely nervous.

Watch the teaser for the film below: