Manto Trailer Review: Nawazuddin Siddiqui Brings the Writer to Life

Manto Trailer Review: Nawazuddin Siddiqui Brings the Writer to Life

Nandita Das’ film about the early 20th century literary genius is much-awaited
Manto Trailer Review: Nawazuddin Siddiqui Brings the Writer to Life
Nawazuddin Siddiqui; Still from 'Manto'

Let’s not beat around the bush.  2018 is  the year of  bio-pics in Bollywood. Barely have we gotten  out  of the two back-to-back hockey sagas Soorma and Gold when it’s time to  relinquish the  sportive spirit  for  a spot of  sunshine in  the literary world.

First  things first. What shines the brightest in the trailer of Manto is the  art direction and  the  cinematography. Swathed  in sepia tones and bright rusty colours denoting a time that has clocked   the past but not been forgotten  in the present,   the  LOOK  of   the film is  so vivid and nostalgic,  it conveys  both regret and urgency.

Female directors, be it Reema Kagti in Gold or now Nandita Das in Manto reflexively gravitate  towards  the  correct  colours to convey a past that could well return sometime  very soon  in the future. Manto’s controversial writing, his vivid description  of  sexual violence and political turmoil  have been discussed and damned for  decades. He is  relevant  to our times even if we have moved  on to Chetan Bhagat.

Here  is Manto revivified  by an actor and a director who get to the  centre of Manto’s universe  by exploring the ambience that fostered  his creative juices while constantly trying to stem its flow.

Manto never fought shy of describing bodily fluids and their  outflow from one individual  to another.  Nandita Das’s film seems  to focus on how Manto’s writing and his unorthodox views  on love sex intimacy and  religion  influenced his own life and those around him.

“When we were under British rule we  dreamt of freedom. Now  when we are free, what do we dream  of?”  Nawaz as  Manto wonders aloud.

There  is an element of  disenchanted  irony in Manto’s personality,  so evident in the poetry of Sahir Ludhianvi and  the cinema of Guru Dutt. Nandita Das’ film seems to explore the dark side of Manto’s personality without abandoning  the sunshine

It may be the year of  bio-pics. But by jove, I want to see how Nawzuddin pulls off two such  ideologically  opposed personalities as  Manto and Thackeray during the same   year.