Manto: How relevant is the writer today?

Published: May 11, 2012
Present-day literati on Manto’s enduring significance. ILLUSTRATION: JAMAL KHURSHID

Present-day literati on Manto’s enduring significance. ILLUSTRATION: JAMAL KHURSHID

57 years after his death, Manto remains one of the most relevant sub-continental writers in present times. The Express Tribune spoke to current writers regarding the writer’s influence.

Ongoing interpretations

Asked why Manto remains relevant today, writer Asghar Nadeem Syed said, “He isn’t just relevant today, he has always been relevant. In almost every era, new interpretations of Manto’s work have emerged. Also, he wrote during difficult times when people were suffering tremendously.

“Since the situation is rather similar right now, he is still widely read by almost every generation and under every governmental regime.”

A feminist writer

Writer Kishwar Naheed, on the other hand, has this to say about the legendary writer: “From honour killings to women’s issues, Manto discussed every topic in depth in his work. At the time, prostitutes, pimps and rape were considered taboo topics, but Manto was not afraid to write about them which is why I think he was more of a feminist writer.”

Regarding Manto’s prose style, Naheed said, “No writing style can ever compare to that of Manto’s. Today, the blood of new writers has turned black. But Manto’s blood is ever red and his writings will forever be treasured and mystifying for all.”


Hidayat Sayer, who made a docudrama about Manto last year said, “Manto is the last great writer of short stories, we won’t find anyone like him in this century or the next.”

On what makes Manto special, he said, “Even when there were so many court proceedings against him, he chose to live in Pakistan. He never lost the will to write the truth. Manto highlighted important societal issues but his work was often discarded and rejected 50 years ago. However, today, he is largely accepted in civil society for bringing such subjects to the fore.”

Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (3)

  • ashar
    May 11, 2012 - 1:40PM

    Well, the relevance is there however the inspirations have been lost. Those who claims that he is relavant are not taking any inspiration from him and thier present day writings are nothing but commercial ventures while one thing is for sure Manto was not a commercial writer, however he was bold enough to show the nasty realities of life, which has now become an essential part of commercial drama and films, taking the senstive topics that can cover more and more vulgarity but this has nothing to do with Manto.


  • Cynical
    May 13, 2012 - 3:35PM

    Above every thing else Manto was a humanist.His writings are as relevant today as it was back then.


  • Deb
    Jun 2, 2012 - 12:44AM


    I agree.


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