Manto Reviews (Top Critics)

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By Nandini Ramnath

Religious intolerance, censorship, the struggle of artists to ply their trade, the crushing of the individual soul by forces too large to combat - just as it is now, it was all happening in the 1940s, Nandita Das suggests in her new movie. What's past is prologue - and what better vehicle for this sobering thought than Urdu writer Saadat Hassan Manto, whose telegraphic wit, unsparing observations on human foibles and abiding interest in society's marginal and disreputable characters have barely aged.

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DNA
By Meena Iyer (3/5)

The movie traces the most tumultuous four years in the life of progressive and provocative Urdu short story writer, Saadat Hasan Manto, who loved Bombay, but later made Lahore his home. He is the toast of Bollywood and shares a strong bond with '40s Hindi cinema actor Shyam.

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BollywoodHungama.com
By Bollywood Hungama (1.5/5)

Is freedom of expression absolute? What constitutes obscenity and indecency? These are the questions our present-day Indian society is grappling with especially when artistes sometimes try to push the envelope. This is unfortunate, considering our history is replete with some very progressive artists who set the benchmark for progressiveness and yet, our society moved forward. Saadat Hasan Manto was one such writer and his works continue to fascinate readers even today.

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Koimoi.com
By Umesh Punwani (3.5/5)

Saadat Hasan Manto - a writer who wrote what he knew and saw, someone who was never afraid to write the truth, someone who infused sensationalism in whatever he wrote. The story starts in 1946, Mumbai (Bombay, back then) and we see how well is Manto doing with his work. Grouping up with personalities like Ismat Chugtai (Rajshri Deshpande), a liberal writer and a superstar of tomorrow Shyam Chadda (Tahir Raj Bhasin), Manto has a bittersweet relationship with his audience.

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Firstpost.com
By Anna M.M. Vetticad (3.5/5)

In a memorable passage mid way through Nandita Das' film, writer Saadat Hasan Manto is addressing a gathering of bibliophiles in Lahore when a member of the audience tells him that his works are so dark they could drive anyone to depression. Manto rebukes the man, not because he was critical but because he sought to speak on behalf of readers other than himself.

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The Times Of India
By Renuka Vyavahare (3/5)

Writers are often a lonely lot who find solace in their fictional stories and characters that strangely mirror reality. They belong to a world of their own even when swamped by people, thus struggling to juggle their parallel lives. Celebrated Urdu poet and author Saadat Hasan Manto found the world of fiction more real than the world around him and yet his fierce imagination thrived on the bitter realities he witnessed.

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Hindustan Times
By Raja Sen (3.5/5)

It is always special when a writer meets a reader who cares. In Manto - the Nandita Das film attempting to unravel Saadat Hasan Manto, wizard of the short story - one such fan leaves concerns of life and death behind to approach the great man. He expresses his admiration in that awkward way we do when great writers leave the rest of us without words, and enquires why, in the latest issue of his favourite periodical, there is no new installment from Manto.

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The Hindu
By Namrata Joshi

Saadat Hasan Manto's greatness lies in how his words resonate with great meaning and relevance even now, in these divisive times, and not merely when they were written. In Nandita Das' Manto one line after another - about Hindu-Muslim unity, freedom of expression and more - cuts deep and reaches out; be it about how we keep laying the blame for everything on the past - 1857, the Mughal empire - even as newer chapters of violence keep getting written in the present with lahu (blood) and loha (iron) or how people don mazhab ki topi (religious hat) when religion begins to rule their minds than the hearts.

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Rediff.com
By Sreehari Nair (3.5/5)

If Saadat Hasan Manto were to go book shopping today, he would have thumbed his nose at the whole Self-Help Section. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: 'Scam!' Manto would have grunted, 'Isn't that a narrowing of your imagination? 'Numbering' the ways in which people may be considered effective.'

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Ndtv.com
By Saibal Chatterjee (4/5)

A paan-seller, Govind, is mentioned in passing early in Nandita Das' Manto. However, in the larger context of the film's central narrative, the relationship the protagonist has forged in his mind with the hawker is far more significant than it seems. The maverick writer owes the former one rupee.

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Deccanchronicle.com
By Suparna Sharma (3.5/5)

Writer-director Nandita Das is quite brave to attempt a movie on the subcontinent's favourite writer. Any moves on Saadat Hasan Manto, then, will be held to intense scrutiny and very high standards because all those who have read Manto carry a piece of him within - heart-wrenching instances of human feral behaviour, glimpses of the death of humanity, a bloody slice of the tragedy of a nation, people split.

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News18.com
By Rohit Vats (4/5)

Manto died in Lahore, Pakistan, in 1955, seven years after the Indian independence. For 35 years, he lived in what he called the love of his life, Bambai (now Mumbai), and spent the rest of it wanting it. His was a life of admiration, stinging tongue, rejection and an indomitable desire to establish himself as the most realistic prose writer of his time.

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The Indian Express
By Shubhra Gupta (2/5)

Saadat Hasan Manto was born to be filmed. His life and much-too-early-death teems with so much drama, and is drenched in so much history, that it is surprising the movies took so long to put Manto in the centre of his own narrative. And, on the face of it, there couldn't have been anyone better than Nandita Das to helm the movie.

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