Director: Nandita Das
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Rasika Dugal, Tahir Raj Bhasin
Nawazuddin Siddiqui's movie Manto too begins with a story which will make you crave to know 'what next?'
And then enters the man himself, just as his loving wife Rasika Dugal is reading his story out loud, fear on her face - a fear which was quite valid considering the fragile profession her husband was in, and knowing how the society treats raw, unabashed truth.
Here on begins Manto's story - a successful writer who is wholly accepted in his country - India. Manto has a best friend in Shyam, played by Tahir Raj Bhasin, a loving family which is about to grow as his wife, played by Rasika Dugal, is pregnant right when India has achieved Independence from the British rule.
But things change quickly for the writer as he moves to Pakistan and suddenly sees the real and sad state Independence has left the country in. From a successful writer, he turns a struggler, but still holds his ground and hopes to become successful one day. Whether he does go back to being successful or not is what the movie is about. In both cases, life shows him real faces of people, some who change and some who remain the same with time.
Manto is a man who has no filters, which Nandita Das has subtly put across by giving him a white kurta to wear many-a-times, even when the world is wearing a suit and putting on a fake smile to greet others.
Our poet on the other hand, because he is way too honest, expects the people around him to be the same, but that in turn ends up making him hurt in ways beyond imagination.
Like in the trailer, the dialogues of this film are a total winner, and in fact, helped Manto himself in times of trouble, well at least once. The music, even though it could have been avoided, are not much of a distraction.
"Mere mulk ki tarah main bhi kat kar azaad hua" is one dialogue which perfectly describes Manto.
Manto's first half entertains and puts its point across, but Nandita seems to have lost the plot in the second half of this one.
The recreation of the pre-Independence period gives out a good feeling since it brings back memories of good old Bombay.
Manto is quite realistic in terms of changing dynamics of a relationship - be it friendship, marriage or even life as a whole. That is truly the crux and the best part of the film - because it stays true to what life as a whole is - bunch of roses with thorns.
So, like expected, Nandita brings out the best storyline, screenplay as well as performances from each of her actors. And of course, Nawazuddin makes the film a worth watch with Tahir and Rasika also giving their best to their respective roles. Rishi Kapoor, Tillotama Shome, Divya Dutta, Gurdas Maan, Shashank Arora, Paresh Rawal, Ranvir Shorey, Rajshri Deshpande, Chandan Roy Sanyal, even though for a brief period of time, leave an impactful mark.