Manto played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui is divided between Manto’s struggle in his colorful life in pre-independence Bombay and the alcohol-laden one in Lahore post-azaadi. His movement due to partition has made him a bird with clipped wings. His physical dislocation here becomes a tool to look at the emotional breakdown of an artist.
His relationship with bombay makes him wander in the streets of Lahore with alcohol to soothe him. But he says about Bombay that this city doesn’t ask questions. As he bids farewell to Bombay to leave for Lahore, he recalls that he owes Rs 1 to a shopkeeper and his actor friend, Tahir Raj Bhasin offers to pay on his behalf. But Manto doesn’t want the favour and says in a memorable scene of the film, “I want to be indebted to this city.”
While Rasika comes forward as the compassionate and dutiful wife and mother who accepted Manto with his many imperfections. She gives a quiet and graceful performance and always a reminder that Manto is better as a writer than a family man.
The legal tussle regarding Mant’s Thanda Gosht showcases his downfall as his proceedings with more cameos with few substantial ideas.
Nandita brings the scenes from Manto’s novels like the devastating “Khol Do”, the controversial “Thanda Gosht” and the all-time classic “Toba Tek Singh”, all looking at the devastating repercussions of Partition. They reveal the scars of the history and of Manto himself.