Saramad Khoosat starrer biography of the controversial writer of the subcontinent Manto was extremely praised by critics as a top notch piece of art. The film was released in September 2015, three years later Nandita Das has released the Indian rendition on the life of Manto. Even though the Bollywood film has been banned from screening it is still available on Netflix in Pakistan.
While the two movies were based on the same personality there are some variations in the movies.
We invited the writer of Pakistani Manto Shahid Mehmood Nadeem and asked him to share his views on the similarities and differences between the two. He started off by stating that he wouldn’t tell which one he thinks is better as it wouldn’t be fair given that he has written the Pakistani version. He appreciated the actor and director Nandita for all the effort, research and hard work she has put in to make this movie.
The Pakistani Manto took a closer look at the essence of his personality .The Indian version adopted a different narrative and told his story from a distance. The writer was shown as a victim of circumstances as a result of which he migrates at the time of Partition. However his suffering doesn’t end and he eventually dies. Manto used to write on social issues that no one else would talk about and for that his work was often criticized and termed as vulgar. He was taken to court numerous times as well.
The Pakistani version of Manto is an attempt to discover the totality of Manto’s soul. For this the creators introduced a spiritual double of Manto. The double was played by Nimra Bucha through whom there was a dialogue between Manto and Sadat Hassan. The goal was to understand the psyche behind the dialogue that Manto does in his own writings. The complexity and art involved in the movie was the reason it was critically acclaimed and did well on the box office as well.
Shahid Mahmood also condemned the ban of the Indian version in Pakistan”It is very unfortunate that it has been banned here the ban should be lifted. Manto was banned by courts and now if governments ban his film then it does not do justice with Manto.”
He also expressed his regret about the fact that the director should not have opted to write the script herself as this causes some disadvantages to the film. As far as the cast goes, besides Nawazuddin Siddique no one is worth mentioning. They have shown an extremely depressing journey and the film failed to keep the audience engaged and interested in the film.