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Movie Review: Nawazuddin’s ‘Manto’ echoes Guru Dutt’s ‘Pyaasa’

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Manto

New Delhi, Sep 20: Film: “Manto”

Starring: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Rasika Duggal, Tahir Raj Bhasin

Director: Nandita Das

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

“Jaane woh kaise log the jinke pyar ko pyar mila…” Echoing the disenchantment of a post-Nehruvian generation trapped between Partition and modernisation, Guru Dutt in “Pyaasa” epitomised the poet’s disenchanment with a world he never asked for. “Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaye toh kya hai?”

Saadat Hasan Manto was a poet posing as a prose writer. He thought and responded to social stimuli like a true poet. When his best friend Shyam, the matinee idol of the 1940s who died young after falling off a horse, blurts out that during the post-Partition communal riots he would have killed any Muslim, including Manto, Manto knew it was time to quit India.

When Nandita Das’s Saadat Haasan Manto leaves Mumbai for Lahore, the film and the protagonist falls into a melancholic meditative mood mourning the passing of an era when the country and its people were split into two messy halves.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s “Manto” taps into every feeling and mood of his complex erudite character.

The actor doesn’t miss a single heartbeat of his character. Nawazuddin takes proprietorial control of Manto, not letting go of his grip over the obstinate genius’ glorious grammar of inspired rebellion. It is as though Nawazuddin was destined to play Manto from the day they both were born. The literary genius and the actor.

Manto

Nandita Das shoots Manto’s life and writings as vignettes of invaluable splendour. We are provided insightful glimpses into the man’s private life with a supportive but disenchanted wife, played with sensitivity and affection by Rasika Duggal, trying hard to cope with the financial constraints, trying to wrap her spousal instincts around the mind of a man who was not only ahead of his times, but also not afraid of defying norms even if it meant taking on the law and the government.

Her colour palate for the 1940s is a striking deep, rich selection of carefully chosen shades that range from the sepia of nostalgia to the crimson of the blood that flows when two communities decide they abhor one another enough to embrace barbarism.

Rita Ghosh’s production design and Kartik Vijay’s cinematography are impeccably understated.

Nandita has a propensity for played-down periodicity. She barely resorts to using the songs of the era (the oldest and simplest cinematic trick to recreate an era).And the one time that Jaddab Bai (played unremarkably by Ila Arun) bursts into a song at a party, we feel the flavour and flair of the times more in the reaction of the guests than the song or singer.

The vibrancy and vitality of Mumbai in the 1940s comes alive more through the characters’ zest for seizing the day than through strained attempts at getting the period details right. Not a single shot of an old gramophone playing 78 rpm records! Miracle!!

Nandita Das invests in her characters. They bring alive the theme and the protagonist’s deepest thoughts and flaws with a fluency that is impressively underplayed and quietly consistent.

The film has some of the most inspired casting I’ve seen in recent times. Rasika Duggal, of course as Manto’s wife. She is always a delight to watch. But also Tahir Raj Bhasin as the matinee idol Shyam. Bhasin plays the superstar with such arresting elan, why don’t we see more of this actor? And how on earth did the director think of Bhanu Uday Singh as the actor par excellence Ashok Kumar? Dadamoni has one disarming moment when potential Muslim rioters recognise him and give him right of way.

Remarkably a slew of brilliant actors make a lasting impression in fleeting appearance: Rishi Kapoor as an abominably lecherous producer, Paresh Rawal as a slimy pimp, Tillotama Shome as a tired prostitute (who just wants to sleep alone for a change), Divya Dutta as a fiercely jealous Punjabi wife whose husband has come home after raping a corpse (the inspiration for Manto’s story “Thanda Gosht”) and most surprising of all, writer Javed Akhtar (making his acting debut) as poet and educationist Ali Abid Ali who exonerates Manto of obscenity charges in the courtroom.

These actors collectively sparkling in this archingly defiant film reminded of a line in Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane” where a character says he once saw a woman on the ocean when their boats crossed. “Not a day has passed when I haven’t thought of her.”

These actors in “Manto” create equally strong impressions even in a fleeting moment, like when Purab Kohli smiles at a girl-child whom three men intend to rape later on. But God, has other plans. And who knows this better than Manto?

As played by Nawazuddin, Manto is a magnificent mix of suppressed rage and expressed bitterness.

The authority with which he articulates lines from Manto’s stories made me wonder if Manto wrote his stories so that one day an actor of Nawazuddin’s skills would own them. Indeed the director with her astute yet subtle eye for historical and period detail couldn’t have hoped for a better actor to play Manto.

Nandita makes sure Nawazuddin gets into the skin of the character. This is an invasion of Manto’s private world but an exceedingly affectionate and reverent invasion.

“Manto” is a work of many virtues and minor vices. On the negative side, the Lahore portions in the second-half lack the pulsating seductiveness of the Mumbai episode where the beau monde comes alive in scattered montages of teasing hedonism .

Maybe by the time he was forced to migrate to Lahore, Manto’s heart was just not in it.

IANS

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NCB summons to Deepika, Shraddha, Sara in drugs-related case linked to SSR death

Bollywood actors Deepika Padukone, Sara Ali Khan, Shraddha Kapoor and Rakul Preeet Singh for questioning in a drug-related case

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Sara Rhea Rakul

Mumbai: In a major development, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on Wednesday said that it has summoned Bollywood actors Deepika Padukone, Sara Ali Khan, Shraddha Kapoor and Rakul Preeet Singh for questioning in a drug-related case.

A senior NCB official related to the probe told IANS, “Summons have been issued to Deepika, Sara, Shraddha and Rakul for questioning. “Besides four Bollywood actors, the NCB has also summoned fashion designer Simone Khambatta.” However, the official did not share the date when these actors have been called for questioning.

The drug law enforcement agency has also summoned Deepika’s manager Karishma Prakash for questioning. The development comes in the wake of the investigation into a drug-related case linked to the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

Sushant was found dead on June 14 at his Bandra flat.

The official said that the actors have been summoned after several alleged chats of them discussing drugs came to the fore during the investigation.

The NCB has registered a case on the request of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) after it found alleged drug chats between Sushant’s girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty, her brother Showik, house manager Samuel Miranda.

Rhea, Showik, Miranda, Sushant’s personal staff Dipesh Sawant along with 16 other accused have been arrested by the NCB in the case so far.

Sara is the daughter of noted actor Saif Ali Khan and Amrita Singh, while Shradhha is the daughter of veteran actor Shakti Kapoor. Deepika is the daughter of the badminton icon Prakash Padukone and is married to Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh.

The official, however, denied that it has issued any summons to Dia Mirza. Earlier in the day, the NCB continued questioning Sushant’s talent manager Jaya Saha for the third consecutive day.

Besides Saha, the NCB is also questioning Madhu Mantena Varma, a noted producer, who gave blockbusters such as ‘Udta Punjab’ and ‘Ghajini’.

According to NCB sources, Varma is being confronted with Saha over alleged chats of them discussing drugs. NCB has also questioned Sushant’s former manager Shruti Modi on a number of occassions.

Besides the NCB, the CBI and the ED are also probing the death case of Sushant.

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Sushant Singh Rajput’s former girlfriend Ankita Lokhande shares her secret to happiness

Ankita, the former girlfriend of late actor Sushant Singh Rajput, took to Instagram and shared a picture where she looks stunning in a white sari and is smiling at the camera.

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Ankita Lokhande

Mumbai: Actress Ankita Lokhande has shared her mantra to be happy. Ankita, the former girlfriend of late actor Sushant Singh Rajput, took to Instagram and shared a picture where she looks stunning in a white sari and is smiling at the camera.

“How to be happy! Decide every morning that you are in a good mood,” she captioned the image.

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Payal Ghosh files FIR against Anurag Kashyap for rape, wrongful restrain, other charges

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Anurag Kashyap

Mumbai, Sep 23 : Actress Payal Ghosh has filed an FIR against filmmaker Anurag Kashyap at Versova Police Station. Charges against Kashyap in the FIR include rape, wrongful restrain, wrongful confinement and outraging modesty of a woman.

Payal’s lawyer Nitin Satpute shared details of the FIR in a statement released on his unverified Twitter account in the early hours of Wednesday. The FIR was filed late on Tuesday night.

Satpute’s statement reads: “Finally FIR has been lodged against Accused for the offence Rape, Wrongful Restrain, Wrongful Confinement and outraging modesty of woman U/S 376(1), 354, 341, 342 of IPC, @iampayalghosh.”

Payal officially levelled MeToo allegations against Kashyap on Saturday, on her verified Twitter account. A day later, in an interview with IANS, she claimed that Kashyap stripped off in front of her and tried to molest her in 2014.

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