Plot = The movie showcases the rise and fall of one of the most notable and controversial urdu – writer SAADAT HASAN MANTO, during the Indian Independence Era. Manto’s conviction in a legal battle against one of his most controversial short stories “Thanda Gosht”, forms the crux of the story!
Opinion = This was one of the most anticipated movies this year, at least, for all the critics. But, unfortunately, the final product is under – whelming. The movie was in the making since many years and I was eagerly waiting for its release. But, I am little disappointed. Instead of delving deep into the thought – process and the psyche of a visionary writer, the movie only acts as a graphical representation of his real – life events. Any educated individual can browse the Wikipedia page and can sensitize himself/herself with Manto’s life.
But, If we decide to watch a biopic, we expect much more to see on screen. I would have appreciated if the makers would have shown the inner turmoil of MANTO, in a scenario where, the entire world, his friends, his wife, his relatives, everybody is against his thoughts and writings, and there is no place for him to find solace. I appreciate the way his popular stories were weaved in the script as a dramatized presentation. But still, a lot of hard work was left midway. The first half of the movie is extremely slow and the narrative is extremely flat. The movie picks up pace post interval and takes us to a relieving climax. The scene where MANTO justifies the filthiness associated with his stories, in the courtroom, is truly remarkable. I would consider this movie as just a one – time watch!
Performances = Nawazuddin Siddiqui is the finest actor, present in the industry today. He is an adroit in understanding the psyche and getting into the skin of his character. On screen, you don’t see nawaz, but MANTO. His dialogue delivery, his frustration, his vision (as a writer), everything seems too convincing. Actress Rasika Duggal, as Safia (Manto’s Wife), also gave a memorable performance. She was the perfect choice for the role. This time, actress Rajshri Deshpande (popular for SACRED GAMES), had nothing productive at her disposal. There are plethora of guest appearances, by extremely potent actors, like Paresh Rawal, Javed Akhtar, Rishi Kapoor, Tillotama Shome, Purab Kohli, Ila Arun, Divya Dutta and Neeraj Kabi (I am sure there are so many, that I am missing some people in this list).But, none of them, gave a remarkable performance.
Direction & Other Technical Aspects = Actress – Director Nandita Das had really impressed me with her craft, in FIRAAQ. But here, I am highly disappointed. If this plot would have been given to Director Shyam Benegal, I am sure, he would have made a much better and interesting film. As a Director, Nanditaji was not able to communicate her vision or the purpose of making this movie, clearly to the audience. The Production Design Team and the Cinematographer, were successful in setting up the era, where the story originates.
Rowdy Rating = 3 / 5