Wild Child Turns 100

The epitaph that he penned for himself reads: “There Saadat Hasan Manto lies buried,and buried in his breast are all the secrets of the art of story-writing.

Written by Parul Bajaj | Published: January 23, 2012 6:04 am

The epitaph that he penned for himself reads: “There Saadat Hasan Manto lies buried,and buried in his breast are all the secrets of the art of story-writing. Even now,lying buried under tons of earth he wonders whether he or God is the greater writer of the short story”. On May 11,Manto would have turned 100.

“Every age has its Manto who dares to break taboos,laying bare the sociopolitical miseries. Our very own Manto did it poignantly just by penning stories,” says art critic,poet and writer Nirupama Dutt,who chaired a session on Manto at the Jaipur Literature Festival,which paid a birth centenary tribute to the wild child of Urdu literature by revisiting his magnum opus,the short story Toba Tek Singh.

Dutt will revisit Manto on a broader canvas by curating an art exhibition on the stories of Manto. Artists such as Shamshad Hussain,Gogi Saroj Pal,Kanwal Dhaliwal and S Rajkumar are a part of this project. “His stories are visually powerful and there’s tremendous potential to link words and visuals and depict a sharp reality,” says Dutt.

Delhi-based actor-director MK Raina,on the other hand,is planning to take Manto to Lahore,Kashmir and Amritsar via a theatre festival of his works. The festival starts with Amritsar,where Manto lived for long. “This is the centenary year of Bhisham Sahni,Balraj Sahni and Manto and I want to pay my tribute,” says Raina,who has dramatised many stories of Manto for stage and says the writer’s texts are lyrical,poetic and political all at the same time. As part of the festival,he will revive Tum Saadat Hasan Manto Ho,a play on communalism.

Another theatreperson,Usha Ganguli,says,“I did three back-to-back productions of Manto’s stories for 4.5 hours in Kolkata and had huge queues.” The Kolkata-based theatre director will showcase a three-part series this year,and an invitation from Jammu is already in. “I first highlighted his women characters in Badnam Manto,then his Partition woes in Sarhad ke Paar Manto and finally looked the man himself in Gumnaam Manto. It is through this series that our group,Rangakarmee,will mark this centenary,” she adds.

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