It’s through sheer brilliance of acting and direction that, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Nandita Das have been able to bring Saadat Hasan Manto to life in the short film, “In Defence of Freedom”, which was premiered at the India Today Conclave 2017 as part of #BigShorts2017, where three directors – Nandita Das, Sudhir Mishra, and Ram Madhvani made three short films to give a glimpse into the idea of where our country is headed and where it should head.

The short film gave a peek into the upcoming biopic movie by Nandita Das, where Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays the lead role as the controversial writer, Saadat Hasan Manto. Nandita Das said, “The beauty of Saadat Hasan Manto is that even after so many years, he is so relevant.” There is no denying that given the state of freedom of expression and speech in our country, a biopic on a writer that defended that freedom will be of utmost relevance.

“If you cannot bear these stories then the society is unbearable. Who am I to remove the clothes of this society, which itself is named.” – Manto

Nawazuddin’s prowess as a great actor has been proved time and again, but this certainly will take him to a new standard. There is an ease to how Nawaz gets into the character of Manto and also the uncanny resemblance between the two is striking. Nawaz discusses the liberty to express in a class while defending the accusations of obscenity in his writings. One immediately takes a liking to the frail, spectacled writer who stands both as a teacher and a lawyer discussing his rights.

Watch “In Defence of Freedom”

About Saadat Hasan Manto:

Born in Punjab, 1912, this Indo-Pakistani writer migrated to Pakistan after the partition of 1947. Considered to be one of the greatest writers of his times, he was charged six times for obscenity. His works carried the elements of satire and comedy leading to dark humour. He wrote of the prostitutes and the pimps and about the sexual slavery of women – all things considered taboo by the society.

 “I am not a pornographer but a story writer.”

He spoke about the freedom to express and the freedom to write about the dark realities of the human psyche and the society, things that the world wanted to keep under wraps.  Manto was a novelist, a playwright, an essayist, a screenwriter and a short story writer and some of his famous works are Thanda Gosht, Kali Salwar, Khol Do and Toba Tek Singh.

If you have read Manto, Nawaz’s acting shall bring your imagination come alive and if you haven’t read him, Nawaz’s acting will compel you to read Manto’s works. The biopic movie will be released later this year.