Nawazuddin Siddiqui is all set to play famed short story writer Saadat Hasan Manto in a film directed by Nandita Das. The actor had even uploaded a photo of himself on social media, displaying an eerie resemblance to the late writer.
— Nawazuddin Siddiqui (@Nawazuddin_S) February 2, 2017
The film will focus on Saadat Hasan Manto’s non-fictional work and personal life. The controversial writer wrote many short stories and poems based on the India-Pakistan partition, and was even tried six times for the high sexual content in his stories. Depressed after the Partition and deported to Pakistan, the writer took to alcohol and died at the age of 42. Some of his short stories include Toba Tek Singh, Cold Meat, Dog of Titwal, Odour, and Open It.
Nandita Das, in an interview with ToI, admitted that she had been harbouring the idea of making a film on the writer for quite a while. “What drew me to the writer was his free spirit and courage to stand up against orthodoxy of all kinds. He wrote with a rare sensitivity and empathy for his characters. As I plunged deeper into Manto’s life, I realised that it felt like I was reading about my father, an artist. I feel he is most relevant to our time,” she said.
The film will follow the most interesting seven years in the life of Manto (from 1946 to 1952) and that of the two cities he inhabits during those years – Lahore and Mumbai. “It has taken me three years of research, along with my writer Ali Mir, to tell the story that seems most relevant to our times and me. The spirit of Manto is the spirit of the film,” added Das.
Speaking about his role as the writer, Siddiqui expressed his excitement. “Nandita and I discussed this project at Cannes. I should begin shooting for it by the end of the year. It’s a very interesting film because Manto was a famous writer in the 1940s-50s and I am excited to play him. It should be an interesting challenge to do a period drama,” he told ToI.
Rasika Dugal of Qissa (2015) fame will be playing Manto’s wife, Safiyah.
Meanwhile, Siddiqui’s other projects for the year includes Ritesh Batra’s film Photographer, Boney Kapoor’s Mom and Kushan Nandy’s Babumoshai Bandookbaaz.