When Nandita Das’ splendid study of the life and times of celebrated writer Saadat Hassan Manto released last Friday, it didn’t get the reception the filmmaker expected. Not only did it not get enough primetime shows, but a lot of the morning shows on the day of its release even ended up being cancelled.
According to rumours doing the rounds, Das is rather unhappy with the way her co-producers, Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, marketed and released the film. However, the filmmaker herself shoots the rumours down saying, “Yes, shows had to be cancelled on the day of release. But it was because of a technical glitch.”
She adds that conspiracy theories take away from the film. “Unfortunately, the technical glitch will impact the numbers, which, in turn, will affect perceptions. After all, it did throw the film off on the first day,” she says.
However, she’s happy to hear that people are loving Manto. “The audience can play an important role in deciding the kind of films that reach them. They need to watch Manto in theatres for the sake of this film as well as others that explore diverse stories,” she says.
The filmmaker also admits that the film could have been marketed better. “I wish it had had a wider release and a more robust marketing plan, as mainstream commercial films do. Then it would have had a level playing field. But word-of-mouth publicity is going strong, so let’s hope for the best,” she concludes.