Nandita Das’s Manto Trailer Is Well Shot & Cut

There was something completely unrehearsed and refreshingly  unpolished  about Nawazuddin’s indignation in Firaaq. Ten years later we see another actor in Nawaz, all prepared rehearsed and exuding a ruminative dramatic tension as  the  writer-thinker-author Sadat Hassan Manto that the original Manto  must have felt but  never articulated with the  precision  of an actor who knows exactly how to control the space around him, even when the space is muddled chaotic  and in turmoil.

 Of course  the central performance we see in  the  brief trailer is  exceedingly accomplished. We expect nothing less from Nawaz. And with the doyenne of  the auteur Nandita Das  at the helm we expect sparks  to  fly.

First of all, the trailer  promises incredibly accomplished technical wherewithal. The cinematography by KartikVijay and sound design by Resul  Pookutty  affords a masterclass  on  cinematic excellence. Rest assured Manto is  a film that will transport  us into the emotional turbulence and  intellectual uncertainties   of  the time when India  was severed  into two clumsy halves.

 Into the cauldron of  friction Manto spread  his provocative  ideas on what violence dos to civilization.He was hated by  the authorities and  disapproved  of by  his  family. These aspects  of  his contumacious art are well implanted  into the trailer.

 The  trailer shows a  very accomplished supporting cast. The forever-reliable  Rasika Duggal has some acerbic moments  with her husband as she reminds him how his scathing writings damaged  their family life. There are other minor appearances  in the trailer by interesting actors  like Shashank Arora which I  hope will grow into something interesting when the  film releases  in July.

There is an inbuilt tension in the plot connected with Manto’s scandalous reputation as  a litterateur. The trailer taps into that tension but with an austere rigour. But does not tell us  anything about Manto’s  subconscious repudiation  of  conventional tropes that we don’t already know.

Interestingly in  2015 Pakistan  had made its own Sadat Hassan Manto bio-pic with Sarmad Sultan Khoosat playing the lead and  directing the film. Khoosat’s Manto bears an  uncanny physical resemblance to Das-Siddiqui’s Manto.

The Pakistani film on Manto was  very dramatic very Sanjay Leela Bhansali  in its images.

This Manto seems  far more restrained, not willing to let go.In that sense the film’s mood is in defiant opposition to its protagonist who  was forever outspoken.

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