Saturday, September 26, 2015

The desire to see a Pakistani film.

If you are an Indian and you are reading this, chances are that you don't have an idea about the film I am talking about. To me its more disheartening than one would tend to think. The neighbor country produces a masterpiece based on the life and works of a literary icon whose works are deeply appreciated and discussed in both countries and we have absolutely no knowledge or clue about the same. I don't know who is to be held responsible here but I am very truly deeply disappointed.

To me, Saadat Hasan Manto is much more than an iconic literary figure. He is an idea, a spirit, a fire that burnt the curtains of falsehood with which the society tried to hide its dirty truths. To me, Manto was not an Indian or a Pakistani. He was the person who saw the truth as it unfolded in front of his eyes, who was shaken to core by the cruelty, ruthlessness, misery, greed and hypocrisy of the people, who saw that the ugly truth lied much beyond religion and how partition provided the perfect opportunity to people to unleash the beast within.

I came across Sarmad Sultan Khoosat's works some months back through the wonderful medium of Zindagi channel which airs Pakistani soaps in India. I was impressed both by his direction and his acting and decided to explore his body of work. That is when I came across Manto (The Film). It was still in the making at that point of time. Needless to say, that because I have been an ardent admirer of Manto and his work, I became considerably excited and keen to watch the movie. At that point of time, it didn't even occur to me that the film is a Pakistani work. I had watched some amazing Pakistani movies like Bol and Khuda kay Liye and I believed that the sensible people in Indian cinema would realize the worth of this work and distribute it in India as well.

When the trailer was released, a couple of weeks back, I was over the moon. It was better than my best expectations. But then it also struck me that there has been absolutely no mention of this film on the Indian side and almost no one is even aware of its existence. I waited in vain, hoping that someone would announce that India is also going to have the good fortune of watching this beautiful work but it didn't happen. Everyday I see rave reviews of the film, everyday my Pakistani friends share their wonderful experience of having watched this film and everyday I burn in envy and disappointment. I don't know if its a conscious decision or just plain ignorance and I don't know on whose part but its shameful that the two countries have still not gathered the maturity to realize that art should not be contained by borders. After all, Manto's own works have been about the the communities and countries, about the misery of cleaving a nation and the suffering that ensued. Shouldn't this film be a landmark, and a tribute to him also in the sense that it should be an effort to bring the two nations and communities closer. All odds can be overcome if the people have will to do so. Had Manto been alive today, he would have surely loved this film and been proud of the work but would have also been disappointed that times since his have hardly changed and that this work did not reach India for whatever reason.

I will admit that a couple of years back I was fed on the media constructed perception that Pakistan is backward nation and its people are mostly radical and fundamentalist in their attitudes. I am sure that people in Pakistan too had a similar image about us. It began to gradually change after I met the wonderful Pakistani author, Jamil Ahmad at the Jaipur Literature Festival and read his work. After his sad demise, I came in touch with his amazingly warm family and then over the last two years I made acquaintance with many more people from Pakistan and was way beyond surprised at they were all so amazing, warm and friendly. And how they were no different from us. How inspite of being two different nationalities, we are essentially the same people. Its high time we realize it. Let politics play its games. But let us recognize that our ties are to deep to severed by a line drawn on the map by a very bothered Englishman. Let us respect both our individuality and our commonness and let not art become the victim of biases and misunderstandings. Please.


  1. These days there is a craze about Pakistani shows on Zindagi least in my place, lot of people have praised the good story line and simple direction sans melodrama of these shows.....isn't that a good thing......I am not familiar with Manto though....good you have brought it up in the blog so that more people come to know about it.....

    1. Sunaina yes..not all but quite a few of them are really well done. The story is crisp, the directions is great, they have a limited but brilliant set of actors (two inches of ivory I would say) and they don't drag.. Its a great thing and a very welcome relief from the saas bahu sagas that the Indian audience were being force fed. Pakistan stresses more on smaller screen because their cinema is not that well done. The audience there loves to watch Bollywoood movies. However the big screen evolution is gathering momentum there and film like Manto are said to have begun a new chapter in the history of Paki Cinema. Three factors make this movie absolutely desirable to watch. One- Its based on the life and works of a very charismatic person and brilliant but controversial writer. Two- It has Sarmad Khoosat as the director and also playing the title character. You have to see his work to believe what a treasure trove of talent and depth he is. And three- Well the neighbors get to watch all our movies, we should atleast get to watch their good productions too. :) I hope its screened in India or atleast Zindagi decides to air it. It has got rave reviews everywhere and I am dying to watch it.

  2. i am not sure of the movies but their serials are much much better especially when compared to the indian serials where one sentence takes a few episodes to be completed ...

    I use to watch old pakistani punjabi movies they were good tooo


    1. Bikram, the movie I talk about is going to worth it. I can vouch for that. Yes they were. Also their theater is amazing!