Saadat Hasan Manto. A contemporary writer of his day. A man who challenged the norm, and spoke the truths that others dared not to even touch. His words chronicled life around him, and gave humanity an opportunity to see itself through the mirror that his words created, highlighting everything from the inhumane treatment of women, to the language people used to interact with each in public that were hypocritically deemed too inappropriate for the masses.
Manto passed away in 1955, and now his story is being brought to the forefront through the accessible world of film by actress and director Nandita Das, premiering the film this past week at 2018 the Toronto International Film Festival. We sit down with her to discuss the making of Manto, from the story to the intricate details, and dive into what this film means to her.
Nandita Das really needs no introduction. Having acted in over 4 dozen films, she is no stranger to the world of film. We Canadians will recognize her collaborative work with fellow Canadian Deepa Mehta in films such as Fire (1996) and Earth (1998), both of which received critical acclaim. She took on the challenge of directing with her debut feature film Firaaq (2008), debuting at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival, and featuring an ensemble cast which includes Naseeruddin Shah, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Paresh Rawal, and many others. A full 10 years later, she returns to the TIFF stage with her second feature Manto, returning to collaborate with many familiar faces, including Nawazuddin Siddiqui who plays the titular character.
We sit down with Nandita Das during the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival – where Manto is celebrating its North American Premiere – to discuss the making of the film, what it meant to her to bring this film to life, and her philosophy behind filmmaking in general.