Meeting Manto Again
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Ik Si Manto will reintroduce the writer through his three daughters and their conversations
Amritsar-based thespian Kewal Dhaliwal is a busy man these days. The theatre director and founder of Manch Rangmanch is gearing up to present the tale of legendary writer Saadat Hasan Manto in his play Ik Si Manto (Once there was a person called Manto) to be staged in Amritsar on May 11, the 100th birth anniversary of Manto. "After Amritsar, we would take the play to Samrala, the birthplace of Manto, on May 13. We would also stage the play in Lahore," says Dhaliwal, who is finalising the play's script.
Taking a new dimension, Dhaliwal's play will involve conversations Manto had with his three daughters. "The daughters are asking him about the allegations of vulgar writings levelled against him by a section of society and Manto is defending his writings before his daughters. All these conversations would be a part of the play," shares Dhaliwal, who staged a play on Manto in Lahore five years back and was "honoured" by Manto's daughters as well.
It was in 1948 that Manto shifted base to Pakistan from India. The years that followed had Manto turning into an alcoholic and that eventually led to his death. "We say that since Manto was born in India and worked at various places here, he is ours. The Pakistanis feel that he died in Pakistan and the best of his works were penned there and hence Manto is theirs. But, I feel Manto and his work can't be divided like the boundaries of the two countries. Ik Si Manto would drive home this point as well," says Dhaliwal.
The play would also highlight the satirical works of Manto and unfold the circumstances that inspired him to write. "The play will have references to all his six stories — Bu, Thanda Ghosht, Dhuan, Kaali