- Manto premiered worldwide at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018
- The film released in India in September 2018
- Thanks to all those in Pakistan who are working to #FreeManto: Nandita
Nandita Das' film Manto, which is based on Pakistani writer Saadat Hasan Manto played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui onscreen, was banned in the late writer's home country and now, writers and activists there are protesting against the ban on the film. Overwhelmed, Nandita Das tweeted: "Beyond borders, the fight for freedom of expression is the same. Thanks to all those in Pakistan who are working to #FreeManto. Thanks to everyone who has taken to the streets to protest against the ban on Manto in Pakistan. I am there with you in spirit, and so is the entire Manto team." The film explores trials Manto faced in his life as an outspoken writer through some of his popular texts.
Playwright Saeed Ahmed, who was the key consultant for Manto, shared glimpses of protest against the ban on film held on Monday on his (unverified) Facebook page:
In December, Saeed Ahmed started a petition on change.org urging the Pakistan government to lift the ban on the film's release in the country. In an open letter Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan, attached to the petition, Mr Ahmed wrote: "Manto celebrates the life of an Urdu writer who chose Pakistan as his home during the Indian partition (in 1947) but is collectively owned and revered by the people of subcontinent. The audiences and critics worldwide have appreciated the film... Saadat Hasan Manto had faced persecution, torture and years of court trials during "Purana Pakistan". Would the same dreadful fate befall the writers, particularly, Manto in "Naya Pakistan"?"
Saadat Hasan Manto was tried for obscenity six times - three times before 1947 in British India, and thrice in Pakistan. However, he was never convicted. The film also explores Manto's trials through and the fight he put up to defend freedom of expression.
Manto premiered worldwide at the Cannes Film Festival 2018 and the film opened in Indian screens in September 2018. Apart from Nawazuddin Siddiqui, the film also features Rasika Duggal, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Javed Akhtar and Feryna Wazheir.