Was the Manto Release Sabotaged?

Nandita Das’s splendid study of Saddat Hassan Manto’s life and times was tentatively released last Friday. According to sources Nandita was not happy with the way Manto was marketed and released by her co-worker’s producers Viacom 18 Motion Pictures.

In fact, Manto did not get enough primetime show times and on Friday of release, the morning shows of Manto were cancelled in Mumbai. But Nandita shoots down all conspiracy theories. Says Nandita, “Yes, shows had to be cancelled on the day of release.

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It was a technical glitch and I don’t think the other reasons cited have any evidence. “Nandita feels such conspiracy theories trivilialize the content of the film. “Rumours trivialize the real reasons. Unfortunately, these technical glitches will impact numbers which in turn impacts perceptions and the run of the film in theatres. After all, it did throw off the release on the much- anticipated first day. ”

She is happy with the way the film has been received. “Going by the incredible and heartwarming response, the audience can play an important role in the kind of films that reach them. They need to watch it in theatres for Manto and for the sake of other films that explore diverse stories. ”

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Nandita does admit Manto could have been marketed better “I wish it had a wider release with a more robust marketing plan as do mainstream commercial films. Then there is a greater level of playing the field. The word of mouth is strong and let’s hope for the best.”

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