Manto: A Millennial’s Take

Our guest writer Anushka Das shares her opinion about Manto and its impact.

You’ve heard of a cinematic marvel ‘Manto’. You’ve heard of a maverick ‘Manto’. You’ve also heard that it has the best of the best in unison – the storyline, Nandita Das, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Manto.

But, did anyone tell you whether it is for you or not? Do you really want to buy that ticket to this movie? That is the question probably no one answers whilst providing a detailed analysis of the movie. We dissect and decipher it in bits and parts but is it worth it when all you want is to unwind yourself for a few hours? That is the point we all look for, isn’t it?

Let’s start with nuances.

This movie is undoubtedly one of the finest cinemas made in the recent times. The acting, the expressions, the direction and music is something you devour inch by inch like a glass of vintage wine. The movie starts with a story and ends with a crater in your chest. The bone-chilling depiction of ‘Thanda Gosht’ by Ranvir Shorey and Divya Dutta is something still etched to my mind. I cannot forget the lost yet determined eyes of Shyam Chaddha when he says that he could kill his best friend to avenge the death of his loved ones or empty expressions of Manto when he realizes that his departure from India is, perhaps the best decision taken. Expressions are the major takeaway from the film. The horror, lust, innocence, joy, freedom, loss, pain – it’s all in the eyes.

The movie depicts the horrors of the partition and I could not fail to ignore a scene (Khol Do) that resembled the opening scene of ‘Rajkahini’ by Srijit Mukherjee. The movie gives a deep introspect to the double standards of our society and it has put its best foot forward to depict the same. Besides that, we could also see that how the partition affected people on a personal level. The scene where a mentally challenged man falls on a no man’s land (Toba Tek Singh) was the crux (read heartbeat) of the movie portrayed in the simplest form. The movie was just the tip of an iceberg what lied underneath was your takeaway from the film.  You were allowed to feel every string of the film. It was entirely your choice whether you wanted to strum on the same strings or search for undertones.

In short, I loved the movie but I would still like to ask you this question “Do you really want to watch the movie?”

Before answering this question, you should ask yourself a few more questions and be honest with yourself because you would be committing two hours of your valuable time on it.

  • What do you love about movies? The story or the entertainment?
  • Do you always look for a happy ending or are you comfortable with the idea of a deep, dark scar on your mind and chest?
  • Are you ready to commit yourself to a good cinema rather than just entertainment?
  • Finally, do you love parallel films?

Don’t watch the movie if you want to unwind – it’s thought-provoking. It will tickle your brain cells and not soothe them. Don’t watch the film if you are looking for a glamorous period drama or a chance to feel proud as an Indian and bash Pakistan and the British. It will make you feel ashamed of the filth that exists in the nooks and corners of our minds. Don’t watch if you are into happy or overtly romanticized sad endings. This mirrors the horrors of our society, not a sinking love story.

Watch it to support good cinema but don’t watch it to ‘Just Chill’!

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