After watching the movie Manto and going through the detailed critiques written on it, I decided to pen down my own views regarding that cinematic experience of Manto ,though I admit my knowledge about Manto the writer is limited only to few number of his stories..Yet I claim that I know Manto! and the movie somehow failed to present him. Manto was introduced to me during my college days as one of the greatest short story writer(Afsana nigaar) of Urdu and his story Naya Qanoon proved it. Later I read few more of his stories and the glaring ugly truth in his writing is what stand him out from all other writers of his era.. He never try to sugar coat truth nor he ever attempted to present harsh realities of life in a presentable wrapping.His ugly naked truth with all its bitterness always seem evident in his stories ..
Coming back to the movie, I admit it was a pleasant experience, though the internal turmoil and struggle of Manto’s life was what that has disturbed me most and it has succeeded to put me on catharsis mode. Music was brilliant and the cinematography of stories of Manto was done with artistic finesse.Some of its scenes are so beautifully captured that it still fascinates me,particularly of Madam Noor Jehan’s scenes ..the birthday party one… Apart from these merits, a major credit the movie earned is of Reviving the Legend Manto which in itself is a great achievement for Cinema as well as for promotion of Urdu Literature.
Movie is not flawless it has technical and non technical flaws .Well my personal knowledge about film making and its art is not sufficient enough to point out technical flaws so will try to comment on non technical ones. There are three kind of audiences the one who know Manto, the one who doesn’t and the third who just heard about Manto and maybe read few of his stories the movie is targeting the third sort of audience,yes movie is made for that lot who will enjoy this introduction of Manto and to his stories and it may fascinate them too.However for those who already knew Manto or at least claim that they know,the movie will be sheer disappointment as the movie merely revolves around the Writer’s general struggle for bread earning,his alcoholism and his mental illness.The major aspects of Manto is missing in movie, his stance, his philosophy of Life, his political views and affiliations and also his literary life is not well projected and his associations with his contemporaries. There are couple of scenes of Qudrat ullah Shahab played by Adnan Jafri ,again the way Shahab sahab was potrayed is not as Qudrat ullah Shahab we knew, though Adnan’s great acting skills was not gelling well with Shabab we knew through Shababnama .We have read that Manto spend his life in trials but we cannot find much court scenes excepts one which was quite hilarious. Again another absurdity that Sarmad created was making an absurd comparison of Iqbal and Manto’s views, projected as contrasting ideas ?? what does it imply? why audience is given choices ? For me it has been quite inappropriate as well as absurd attempt by the director. It seem a failed attempt of bellitling Iqbal .As for me Iqbal and Manto has no comparison they are very different people of different genres but not opponents, nor their ideology seem opposing to each other. Iqbal is a reformer more than a poet whose doctrine of Khudi does not contradict with the Truth that Manto was revealing through his stories. So why such comparison is shown ? .Well I as reader will say that I will keep admiring the fascinating ideology of IQBAL ( May we get the strength to Hail him ) and will keep believing in Manto’s truth.
In short it would not be harsh to say that film failed to justify Manto’s stance as a Writer and so Sarmad’s. However I reiterate that movie is good in its making, music and I would love to watch it again .The major procurement of the movie is Revival of Manto among new generation,reviving the Magic of Manto and of being alone of its league kinda movie about a writer, which is a treat for literature lovers. The rising and shining of Our CINEMA and people writing critiques on it would not be possible without this movie .Bravo Sarmad!