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[Films] Nandita Das' Manto to open second edition of Singapore South Asian Film Festival


Theatre and film personality Nandita Das 'much acclaimed film " Manto" would open the second edition of the Singapore South Asian Film Festival. The film festival is scheduled to take place from 5th October [at Carnival Cinema] to 13th October [Resorts World Sentosa .]

The film was also screened at Cannes 2018 for the prestigious Un Certain Regard.


Manto is based on the four most tumultuous years (1946-1950) in the life of Saadat Hasan Manto, the maverick writer. It is set during the Independence of India from the British, leading to the Partition of the country.

Manto is a story of two emerging nations, two faltering cities, and one man trying to make sense of it all.

Through all of this, Manto continues to write prolifically, his works mirroring the harsh realities of the time. In the film, facts and fiction overlap, blurring the lines between his works and the film’s main narrative. Without his stories, the story of his life would be incomplete.

As sectarian violence engulfs India, Manto is compelled to make the difficult choice of leaving his beloved Bombay for the newly born Pakistan, he finds himself bereft of friends, unable to get his writings published and burdened by trials for alleged obscene writing. His increasing alcoholism and anguish take a toll on his family and lead him on a downward spiral.

"We are delighted to screen Manto as the opening film at SGSAIFF. Manto was very much a South Asian writer. But unlike the Europeans, we South Asians do not own this identity, despite many cultural and social similarities amongst the countries in the region. Therefore, it is important to support such festivals that celebrate cinema from the Subcontinent. Last year, SGSAIFF screened a film I acted in, Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai as the opening film, which is yet to be released. I was unfortunately unable to make it. So, I very much look forward to attending it this year," says Nandita in a statement.


I first read Saadat Hasan Manto when I was in college and was struck by his simple yet profound narratives. For years, I thought of making a film based on his stories, even before I made my directorial debut, Firaaq. But it is only when I read his essays that I realized that his own life was as interesting as his stories. He also seemed very familiar to me because, like Manto, my father is an unconventional artist, a misunderstood misfit who is fearlessly blunt.

What drew me to Manto was his free spirit and courage to stand up against orthodoxies of all kinds. Manto’s unflinching faith in the redemptive power of the written word resonates with my own compulsion to tell stories. In some mystical way, I feel I am part of that hopeful legacy! I believe there is a Mantoiyat (Manto-ness) in all of us – the part that wants to be more truthful and courageous. The spirit of Manto is the spirit of the film.

The film is culturally and socially rooted in its context but its emotions are universal. They transcend boundaries. I could not have wished for a better start than the Cannes Film Festival for it to reach the widest possible audiences.


Today, his stories are regarded as one of the most honest accounts of his times.

In his short life of 42 years, Manto wrote almost 300 stories, more than 100 radio plays and numerous film scripts and essays. He had an unwavering empathy for women and those who lived on the margins of society including sex workers. His defining works were set during the devastating partition that led to the largest mass migration in the history of the world, killing hundreds of thousands of people. Manto was tried six times on charges of obscenity for his irreverent stories, both in India and Pakistan.

Saadat Hasan Manto (1912-1955), is celebrated as one of the greatest short story writers from South Asia.

The Film festival aims to focus on the films on the South Asian Region. Here's the full schedule.

Crew: Director, writer: Nandita Das. Camera (color) Kartik Vijay. Editor: Sreekar Prasad. Music: Zakir Hussain, Sneha Khanwalkar.

Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Rasika DugalTahir Raj Bhasin, Rishi Kapoor (Urdu, English, Hindi, Punjabi dialogue)

Co-producer en compagnie des lamas & magic if films

Associate producers sameer dixit, jatish varma & nirang desai

Producer hp studios; filmstoc; viacom18 motion pictures & nandita das initiatives

Executive producer sanjeevkumar nair

Director of photography kartik vijayeditor sreekar prasad

Sound designer resul pookutty

Background score zakir hussain

Music sneha khanwalkar

Poduction designer rita ghosh

Costume designer sheetal iqbal sharma

Hair & make-up shrikant desai

Script consultant mir ali hussain & saadia toor

On location sound mixer abhishek tripathy

Line producers nishith dadhich & prasanth kumar

First assistant director purnendu panda

vfx prana studios

Di prime focus


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