Director Sarmad Khoosat beautifully depicts the life of the most controversial writer of the subcontinent Saadat Hasan Manto in his first feature #Film 'Manto'. Sarmad has brought together the finest actors of Pakistan in his latest outing. The movie stars Sania Saeed, Nimra Bucha, Hina Bayat, Yasra Rizvi, Saba Qamar, Mahira Khan and Adnan Jaffar.

Shelley rightly said, “The pleasure that is in sorrow is sweeter than the pleasure of pleasure itself.” Sarmad puts this quotation in the right place by directing an accomplished piece of art. Sarmad, who earlier touched the peaks of glory and success by directing TV serial ‘Humsafar’, has reaffirmed his status as the virtuoso of the crème de la crème of Pakistan. With his inimitable flair, Sarmad has served a deliciously crafty, intensely humane and movingly absorbing biopic for the Pakistani cinemagoers.

ANALYSIS

Sarmad, who is the lead protagonist and director of the film, is in top form this time around – especially because he feels himself very close to Manto’s work.

It comes as no surprise that the movie clearly belongs to Sarmad, but it is praiseworthy that the supporting actors get enough elbow room to bolster the narrative with a supremely stirring thoughtfulness. Sarmad, with his cinematic mastery, has made this movie special for a lot of people. He has shot each sequence with a measured precision, which makes ‘Manto’ a hauntingly moving biopic to come out of the subcontinent.

Last month, I wrote about Ketan Mehta’s biopic ‘Manjhi - The Mountain Man’. However, I appreciated Mehta for taking a step to contour the experiences of Manjhi, but on the same hand I criticised him for not bringing a touching sensitivity to Manjhi’s character. This is the point where ‘Manto’ scores. The role of Manto is so finely written accompanied by a triumphant act by Sarmad that the audiences will be left thinking about Manto’s life for hours. The monologue in the end is certainly the centrepiece moment of an exquisitely drawn portrayal of melancholy and emotional delicacy.

‘Manto’ is an audacious endeavour and a risky strategy to delineate the protagonist’s experience from inside. Sarmad made a perfect choice when he decided to play the role of Manto himself. I believe no one else could’ve portrayed it with so much meticulousness. It is emotionally devastating to see that the most upsettingly brilliant sequences in the piercingly sad ‘Manto’ are between Sarmad Khoosat and himself.

Sarmad largely lingers in your memories for the meaty dialogues that he gets to deliver. Undoubtedly, he delivers the dialogues with patience, elegance and a confounded smile on his highly-emotive face – making us believe that Manto has come to life again.

The supporting actors are rock solid, especially Saba Qamar as Madam Noor Jahan. Saba carries a very difficult role with aplomb. On the other hand, Sania Saeed and Nimra Bucha will leave you spellbound with their acting finesse.

Nadia Afghan springs a pleasant surprise with a refreshingly bold enactment that is bound to win her a lot of praise. Savera Nadeem is flawless. Hina Bayat is spectacular - her eyes radiate a spark that speaks even when she doesn’t have anything to say. Brilliant! Mahira Khan plays a unique role with simplicity.

VERDICT

With an interestingly intricate premise, ‘Manto’ depicts the life of an accomplished writer of the subcontinent. The movie clearly rests on the shoulders of supremely talented Sarmad, who eloquently plays Manto.

Rating: ★★★★ #Cinema