The Ajoka theatre group kicked off its celebration of Saadat Hassan Manto’s 101st birth anniversary here on Wednesday with readings from his work by famous writers and clips from a television show on his life.
The evening began at the Alhamra on The Mall with the presentation of an upcoming drama and movie, Mai Manto, written by Shahid Nadeem and directed by Sarmad Khoosat which will be aired soon. Khoosat plays Manto in the television drama, which also features Maria Wasti, Sania Saeed and Irfan Khoosat.
The presentation was followed by readings of Manto’s letters, short stories and plays. “To understand Manto, we don’t have to read his writings. His quotes about himself are more then sufficient to understand the great visionary writer of his times,” said playwright Asghar Nadeem Syed. “It is very interesting that Manto wrote the best of his creative stories at the hardest times in his life.”
Syed, speaking to The Express Tribune, said that there was a misconception that Manto was against the formation of Pakistan.
His letters to Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India, showed that he wasn’t opposed to Pakistan.
Naveed Shahzad’s delivery of Manto’s story Thanda Ghosht and sketches Ganjay Farishtay had the audience in a trance.
Dr Khalid Mahmood Sanjrani, a professor at Government College University, said that the readings arranged by Ajoka outshone the events that the government had arranged last year.
“Though 2012 was celebrated as the year of Manto by the Government of Pakistan, and various events were arranged over the year to celebrate his centenary, it was only today that I felt that Manto was among us,” he said.
Actor Shujaat Hashmi read Letter to Uncle Sam 6, delivered in his famous style of oratory.
He said that Manto’s works had been translated all over the world. “Manto was divine, he was something above literature,” he said.
The Ajoka theatre group will stage a play on Manto, Kaun hai yeh gustakh, on Thursday.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2013.