The first look of Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Manto had left us in shock, promising a lot about yet another stellar performance from the actor. Now, Nawaz has taken to the screen as Saadat Hasan Manto in a short film by Nandita Das, called In Defence of Freedom, in which he spoke extensively about his right to express and write, as blunt as he aspires it to be. The short film had its debut at the India Today Conclave, leaving everyone just speechless.
The film spoke about exploring the need and importance of freedom of expression and questioning why one should not write about the not-so-pleasant things in society. As Manto, Nawaz explains to his students in a class that one should write what they see and his writings reflect the society, irrespective of the explicit content people raise an objection to.
The film is directed by Nandita Das who spoke about how Manto is still relevant to the society, “In any democratic or progressive society, freedom of speech, although ambiguous to define, should be cherished. Freedom of expression is needed for any society to be progressive else we will go back in time if there are no diverse views or analysis if a child cannot ask questions.”
Nawaz had earlier spoken about how he has been reading a lot of Manto’s writings to get into the character. The film covers Manto’s life from the age of 25 to 35 years. To be true to his character, Nawaz denied using any prosthetics in order to look natural and as simple as Manto.
For him, to become Manto on-screen, the most difficult way was to imbibe his dialect. Since there were no videos available to understand his characteristics, Nawaz had to depend on Manto’s writings to understand the rhythm of his speech and the way he would use words. The film will release this year but the dates haven’t been released for now.