Actress-filmmaker Nandita Das is recurring to direction after a break of almost six years with the life-story of Pakistani writer Saadat Hasan Manto and she says internationally commended actor Irrfan Khan has articulated his wish to play the lead in the film. Nandita says Irrfan, who himself is a Manto fan and has read a lot of his work, is a perceptive actor and will be talented to pull off the role very smoothly.
“Irrfan has shown a lot of serious interest in the film. The whole film rests on Manto. It is an amazing role for any actor. Infact when I spoke to Irrfan he said for this kind of role any actor from the grave would also come out and do it. He is a very sensitive actor. He himself has read a lot of Manto. Manto speaks to him at a personal level just as it does to me. So I am hoping that we will be able to work together,” Nandita told to the press on the sidelines of NFDC’s Film Bazaar.
The director has just done the script and the film will go on floors in August next year.The 46-year-old actress made her directorial debut in 2008 with “Firaaq”, a political thriller film set one month after the 2002 riots in Gujarat and looked at the consequences of its effects on the lives of people. With “Manto”, Nandita is telling the story of the prolific Pakistani writer, whose works are celebrated in both sides of the border. Manto was tried for obscenity six times; thrice before 1947 in British India, and thrice after independence in 1947 in Pakistan, but never convicted.
“Manto is the protagonist. Through the film I want to say that everything that was relevant in his time is sadly still relevant today. Whether it’s the struggle for identity or freedom of expression. Many of the issues that he grappled with are the same stories today. His stories are extremely powerful, so was his life,” Nandita says.