Manto (2018 film)

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Manto film poster 2017.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed byNandita Das
Written byNandita Das
Produced by
StarringNawazuddin Siddiqui
Tahir Raj Bhasin
Rasika Dugal
Rajshri Deshpande
CinematographyKartik Vijay
Edited bySreekar Prasad
Music bySongs
Sneha Khanwalkar
Background Score
Zakir Hussain
Distributed byViacom 18 Motion Pictures
Release dates
  • 13 May 2018 (2018-05-13) (Cannes)
  • 21 September 2018 (2018-09-21) (India)
Running time
116 minutes
Box office3.71 crore[1]

Manto is a 2018 Indian biographical drama film based on the life of the prominent Urdu author Saadat Hasan Manto, written and directed by Nandita Das.[2] The film stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the title character of Indo-Pakistani, author and writer Saadat Hasan Manto. Tahir Raj Bhasin plays the 1940s Hindi film superstar Shyam Chadda.[3] Shyam was Manto's friend, confidant, and inspiration for a number of stories.[4] Rasika Dugal plays the role of Manto's wife, Safia. Manto is based on the 1940s post-Independence period of India. Manto earned seven nominations at 64th Filmfare Awards including Best Film Critics, Best Actor Critics for Siddiqui.

The poster of the film was unveiled at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.[5][6] Das made a short film titled In Defence of Freedom, also starring Nawazuddin in the main role, and was released on YouTube on 23 March 2017. The film premiered at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and released in Indian theatres on 21 September 2018.[7][8] It was made as a prelude to the feature film.[8] The film has multiple producers such as HP Studios, Filmstoc, and Viacom 18 Motion Pictures.[9]


Bombay, 1946: Amidst the freedom struggle against the British Empire and the forewarning of India being partitioned, Saadat Hasan Manto, a well-established short story writer works in the glittering world of the Bombay film industry as a scriptwriter. Although Manto has a tenuous relationship with the Progressive Writers’ Association, many of its members are his close friends, including the feminist writer, Ismat Chughtai. They are both acquitted from the charge of obscenity for their respective works. Manto has many admirers and friends in the film industry. The closest is Shyam Chadda, a charming budding actor and Ashok Kumar, a famous actor, director and producer. But, his biggest supporter and the unwavering pillar of strength is his wife, Safia.

Soon after, India gains independence on 15 August 1947 and the new nation of Pakistan is born. Safia leaves for Lahore to attend her sister's wedding. Despite flaring Hindu-Muslim tensions, Manto decides to stay back in his beloved city of Bombay. One day, Shyam, on hearing that his family was forced to flee Pakistan because of a Muslim mob attack, tells Manto in anger: "I could have even killed you." Shocked and anguished, a non-practicing Muslim, Manto suddenly becomes conscious of his religious identity and the vulnerabilities that come with it. He impulsively makes the unimaginable decision of moving to Pakistan.

Lahore, 1948: A melancholic city full of refugees, forsaken property, and burnt buildings becomes Manto's new home. He is left grappling with a growing sense of isolation and a deep sense of betrayal. As he struggles to come to terms with his new reality, he spirals into a state of perpetual drunkenness. Though Safia continues to stand by him, their marriage begins to feel the strain. Relentless and long-drawn court trials alleging obscenity in his story Thanda Gosht (literal meaning: Cold Meat) take a severe toll on his health and finances. His statement in defense of literature and free speech is met with conviction. Despite this, he continues to pen some of his sharpest and most courageous works.

His compulsions to write and drink are in direct conflict with his desire to see his family - his wife and two daughters, happy and secure. His failing health makes him hallucinate. Unable to see his family suffer any longer, he finally admits himself into the alcohol rehabilitation center at Lahore Mental Hospital.

The main narrative is seamlessly interspersed with five of his poignant stories. The last one being his most famous story - Toba Tek Singh. Manto begins the story with, "two or three years after Partition, it occurred to the governments of India and Pakistan to exchange their lunatics like they had exchanged their criminals. The Muslim lunatics in India were to be sent to Pakistan and the Hindu lunatics in Pakistani asylums were to be handed over to India." The Sikh protagonist, who has vowed to remain standing until he finds his village, lies in death in no-man's land, between the two nations. Manto's predicament is not too different.




Saadat Hasan Manto's (1912-1955) short stories set during the devastating partition of the Indian subcontinent were his defining works.[20] These irreverent, unflinching but deeply humane stories, earned him the wrath of the British Indian government and later of Pakistan. The stories were deemed obscene by the courts and he spent his last years fighting legal battles to defend his right to write. Today, his work is seen by both scholars and the reading public as one of the most authentic and independent accounts of the human tragedy of those years.


In November 2015, it was reported that Nandita Das had approached actor Irrfan Khan to play the leading role in her film Manto. Nandita said that, "Irrfan fits the role to the T as he speaks fluent Urdu, looks a lot like Manto and, above all, is a wonderful actor. He has read a lot of Manto himself and is influenced by him."[21][22] In May 2016, during the 69th Cannes Film Festival Nandita announced that Nawazuddin Siddiqui had been finalized for the central role of Manto in her next film. Nandita said that, "I have had Nawazuddin in mind from the very outset, but in India, economics always interferes with art and there was pressure on me to cast a more mainstream star."[23][10]


The film was shot on various locations across Mumbai and the lahore portions were shot in the village called Vaso (Nadiad) in Gujarat.[24] The shooting continued for 41 days before reaching its endpoint in July 2017.[25]


It was selected to compete in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.[26][27] The official teaser of the film was released on 12 May 2018.[28] The trailer of film was released on 14 August 2018.[29]


Soundtrack album by
Released9 September 2018 (2018-09-09)
GenreFeature film soundtrack
LabelZee Music Company
External audio
audio icon Official Audio Jukebox on YouTube
Sneha Khanwalkar chronology
Hanuman: Da' Damdaar
Raftaar chronology

The music of the film is composed by Sneha Khanwalkar and Raftaar while the lyrics have been penned by Dibakar Banerjee, Simaab Akbarabadi, Meeraji, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Raftaar and Saadat Hasan Manto. The first song of the film titled as "Nagri Nagri" sung by Shankar Mahadevan was released 31 August 2018.[30] The album released by Zee Music Company on 9 September 2018.[31]

Nandita Das had asked Khanwalkar not to use any electronic music.[32] Moreover, the composer was asked to compose songs from poems of 1940s and 50s. Three poems were chosen for this. The song "Ban Titli" was made by the composer for a Dibakar Banerjee-project which was cancelled.[33]

Vipin Nair of The Hindu gave the soundtrack 4/5, calling it a "whopper" soundtrack and wishing it was longer.[34][35]

Track listing
1."Ban Titli (Gratis)"Dibakar Banerjee, Sneha KhanwalkarSneha KhanwalkarRekha Bhardwaj2:18
2."Ab Kya Bataun"Simaab AkbarabadiSneha KhanwalkarShubha Joshi4:35
3."Nagri Nagri"MeerajiSneha KhanwalkarShankar Mahadevan3:27
4."Bol Ke Lab Azaad Hain"Faiz Ahmed FaizSneha KhanwalkarRashid Khan, Vidhya Shah4:56
5."Mantoiyat"Raftaar, Saadat Hasan MantoRaftaarRaftaar, Nawazuddin Siddiqui2:56
Total length:18:12



Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
2018 Asia Pacific Screen Awards Best Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui Won [36]
FIAPF Award Nandita Das Won
2018 Cannes Film Festival Un Certain Regard Award Nominated [37]
2018 Toronto International Film Festival People's Choice Award [38]
2019 Filmfare Awards Best Film (Critics)
Best Screenplay
Best Dialogue
Best Actor (Critics) Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Best Cinematography Kartik Vijay
Best Production Design Rita Ghosh
Best Costume Design Sheetal Sharma Won

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Manto Box Office Collection". Bollywood Hungama. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  2. ^ "Nandita Das and Nawazuddin Siddiqui bring Mantoiyat to JNU". The Times of India.
  3. ^ "Look who's playing Nawazuddin Siddiqui's friend in Manto". DNA. 25 February 2017. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  4. ^ "Manto to Shyam — Lahore, Amritsar and Rawalpindi are all where they used to be". Dawn. 28 February 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  5. ^ "First poster of Nawazuddin Siddiqui's Manto unveiled at Cannes". Deccan Chronicle. 23 May 2017. Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  6. ^ "Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Nandita Das unveil Manto at Cannes Film Festival". Deccan Chronicle. 25 May 2017. Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  7. ^ "Batti Gul Meter Chalo And Manto Opening Day".
  8. ^ a b "Watch: Nawazuddin Siddiqui aces Manto's look and quirks in Nandita Das' short film". Firstpost. 21 March 2017. Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  9. ^ "Manto director Nandita Das: My team has 'Mantoiyat' and that's what we want to invoke in the audience". The Indian Express. 28 May 2017. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  10. ^ a b "Nawazuddin Siddiqui excited to play Manto". The Indian Express. 20 May 2016.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "Manto - Teaser - Nawazuddin Siddqui". YouTube.
  12. ^ "Rasika Dugal to visit Pakistan for Manto?". Hindustan Times. 2 October 2016.
  13. ^ "Tahir Raj Bhasin to play Sunder Shyam Chadda in the Nandita Das-directed Manto biopic". Mumbai Mirror.
  14. ^ "Feryna Wazheir to portray young Nargis Dutt in Nandata Das's Manto". Mumbai Mirror.
  15. ^ "Chandan Roy Sanyal roped in for Nawazuddin Siddiqui's 'Manto'". Mid-Day. 10 February 2017.
  16. ^ "Rishi Kapoor will play a special role in Nawazuddin Siddiqui's Manto". Hindustan Times. 20 April 2017.
  17. ^ a b "Nandita Das ropes in Divya Dutta, Ranvir Shorey and Purab Kohli for her Manto biopic". Mumbai Mirror.
  18. ^ "Manto biopic: Rajshri Deshpande eager to enter the world of Nawazuddin Siddiqui". Hindustan Times. 23 March 2017.
  19. ^ Rosario, Kennith (28 March 2017). "Playing the literary fireball". The Hindu.
  20. ^ Sridharan, Soujanya (11 May 2017). "Saadat Hasan Manto and his enduring legacy". The Hindu.
  21. ^ "Irrfan is Nandita's Manto". The Times of India.
  22. ^ "Irrfan wants to star in Nandita Das' next 'Manto'". The Indian Express.
  23. ^ "Cannes 2016: Nawazuddin Siddiqui to star in Nandita Das' film on Manto". DNA India.
  24. ^ "What remains of Manto's Bombay?". Condé Nast Traveller India. 20 September 2018. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  25. ^ "Nandita Das wraps up Manto shoot". The Indian Express. 2 July 2017. Retrieved 27 June 2020.
  26. ^ "The 2018 Official Selection". Cannes. 12 April 2018. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  27. ^ "Cannes Lineup Includes New Films From Spike Lee, Jean-Luc Godard". Variety. 12 April 2018. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  28. ^ "Manto - Official Teaser - Nawazuddin Siddiqui - Nandita Das - Viacom18 Motion Pictures". YouTube.
  29. ^ "Manto Trailer: Nawazuddin Siddiqui As Saadat Hasan Manto Is Brilliant. Take A Bow". The Indian Express. 15 August 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  30. ^ "'Nagri Nagri' from 'Manto' charts the writer's journey across decades". Scroll.In. 31 August 2018. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  31. ^ "Manto - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack". Saavn. 21 September 2018.
  32. ^ "Sneha Khanwalkar's Quest To Find Her Groove - Film Companion". Film Companion. 17 September 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  33. ^ Ghosh, Devarsi. "Everything is musical for composer Sneha Khanwalkar (as long as it's 'interesting')". Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  34. ^ "Folksy tapestry, retro renditions". The Hindu. 26 September 2018. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  35. ^ "Manto - Music Review (Bollywood Soundtrack) | Music Aloud". 27 September 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  36. ^ "2018 APSA Winners".
  37. ^ "MANTO - Festival de Cannes".
  38. ^ "Toronto International Film Festival - Manto".

External links[edit]