Manto Review: Alcoholic, Absent Father, Dazzling Writer… How to Get a Biopic Right

Bollywood

Manto Review: Alcoholic, Absent Father, Dazzling Writer… How to Get a Biopic Right

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

M

idway through Nandita Das’s Manto, the biopic of Indian-Pakistani writer, Saadat Hasan Manto, I was reminded of Sanju.

I don’t intend to insult Manto’s emotional honesty by invoking Sanju, the very definition of manipulative dishonesty. But I doubt that there will be any criticism of the kind of hagiographies we are used to, which is as scathing as Manto. Although, both Sanju and Manto exist to serve celebrated men, yet Manto refuses to exalt or exonerate its protagonist. If Rajkumar Hirani went out of his way to insist that a naive Sanju be forgiven for his “mistakes”, then Das almost makes a statement against Hindi biopics by refusing to look away from Saadat Hasan’s flaws just because he was Manto.

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