It seems like 2015 is shaping up to be a stellar year for the country’s box office. A number of films are already slated to be released from Eid-ul-Fitr to Eid-ul-Azha, and now another Pakistani film, Mein Manto has joined the club. Directed by Sarmad Sultan Khoosat and produced by Asif Raza Mir, the biopic of the controversial writer Saadat Hassan Manto is set to be released this September.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Khoosat revealed that he has recently wrapped up the shoot for Mein Manto and confirmed speculations on its release saying, “We are hopeful to release the film in September.” The film will explore Manto’s personal life with reference to his work. According to Shahid Nadeem, screenwriter of Manto, the film is about the society’s misunderstanding of the writer. “It’s basically about a misunderstood and sensitive soul,” added Nadeem.
Like all biopics, it will recreate some of Manto’s key moments, most notably his decision to migrate from Bombay to Pakistan, right when his career as a screenwriter was about to take off. “At the time when Manto was migrating to Pakistan, he had written a script for the film Mirza Ghalib. Had he stayed in India Manto would’ve been a famous screenwriter but he chose to come to Pakistan,” he said.
Initially conceived as a 20-episode TV serial, Nadeem revealed that, although, they have incorporated elements of dark humour, a trademark of Manto, it’s not going to be a comedy film. “It will focus on the writer’s personal life and how he had to find a balance between his personality as a rebellious writer and his family life.” It will depict Manto’s addiction to alcohol and his friendship with legendary singer-cum-actor Noor Jehan, who was particularly fond of his work.
“Even though, many people have started appreciating his work now, but in the past, his writings were considered inappropriate and deemed vulgar by people. For instance he used to admire down-trodden women. Women who had to defy the rules and regulations as society to support them, he considered them as rebels,” Nadeem said.
Featuring an all-star cast with director Sarmad Khoosat portraying the enigmatic writer himself, Mein Manto also stars Sania Saeed as Saadat Hasan Manto’s wife and Saba Qamar as Noor Jehan. Humayun Saeed, Savera Nadeem and Faisal Qureshi will be seen in cameos playing the roles of famous personalities of that era.
Nadeem was all praise for Khoosat’s acting and directorial prowess, especially in this film. He said, “His work as an actor and a director in Mein Manto was excellent. He has shown the internal feelings and conflicts of the character ensuring that it isn’t just a movie about a controversial figure.”
In an earlier interview, Khoosat revealed how the film will differ from current mainstream cinema. “This isn’t going to be your typical film. The scale will be a lot larger than an independent film, as half of the television industry is participating,” said the director.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 10th, 2015.