BY ANUJ RADIA
Mimi Steinbauer’s Radiant Films International announced today that it will introduce international buyers to MANTO, written and directed by the critically acclaimed Nandita Das (FIRAAQ, FIRE). The film, based on the life and work of Saadat Hasan Manto, one of the most distinguished short story writers of the 1940s, celebrates its World Premiere at the Cannes Film Festival 2018 as part of the Un Certain Regard official selection on Sunday 13th May 2018.
Radiant Films is already speaking with interested international buyers and expects to close deals in Cannes. Radiant’s acquisitions executive Mike Dougherty introduced the project to the company, with Steinbauer negotiating the rights deal. The film’s co-producers Marie Masmonteil and Sandrine Brauer of En Compagnie des Lamas, one of the leading independent producers in France, are handling the French sale. Viacom18 Motion Pictures is distributing the film in India with a release scheduled for later this year.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui (MCMAFIA, LION) stars in the title role, along with Rasika Dugal (QISSA: THE TALE OF A LONELY GHOST) who plays his wife Safia, and Tahir Raj Bhasin (FORCE 2) is cast as Manto’s close friend and acclaimed actor of 1940’s Indian cinema, Shyam Chadda.
MANTO is Nandita Das’ second directorial project after her debut film, Firaaq. She has acted in more than 40 feature films and has served on both the main competition and short film juries at the Cannes Film Festival.
Mimi Steinbauer, Radiant Films International said: “Nandita Das has crafted a remarkable film that pays tribute to a gifted artist, both through a recounting of his incredible, turbulent life and through vivid recreations of some of his most cherished stories. We were dazzled by her film, and we are extremely excited to help share it with the world.”
Nandita Das added: “I am most delighted that Radiant Films is going to help us share this film with the widest audience possible. They have a reputation for being passionate and caring about the films they choose to sell. I look forward to Manto travelling the world.”
MANTO begins in an optimistic India waiting to be free from British colonial rule. No one has any idea of the upheaval the Partition of India and Pakistan will soon bring. Riots between Hindu and Muslim pit neighbour against neighbour, and strain even the deepest friendship.
During this period, Manto – one of history’s greatest short story writers – is torn between his beloved Bombay, and moving to Pakistan. Increasingly, his writings bear shocking witness to a society caught up in communal violence in which people become, for no reason at all, predators or prey.
Meanwhile, Manto’s own flawed humanity drives him to shine a light on the dark underbelly of society that so many chose to ignore. As Manto fights to clear himself from charges of obscenity and maintain his freedom, his increasing alcoholism and anguish takes a toll on his family and leads him to a downward spiral.
Through all of this, he continues to write, his works mirroring the harsh realities of the time as he continues to pen the truth, for which he pays the ultimate price.
This is the tale of two emerging nations, two faltering cities and one man who tries to make sense of it all.