The artist and his art are indeed inseparable in the case of Manto, as Fareeda Mehta revealed in her movie Kali Salwaar. Manto observes and interacts with his creations. As they tell us their stories, the characters also tell us something about their creator. Sultana Sadiya Siddiqui , a prostitute, migrates to Mumbai from Muzaffarpur in search of a better life. Manto set the original story in Delhi but Mehta, with the help of artist Bhupen Khakhar, convincingly changes the setting to Mumbai.

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A new collection that debunks the reductionist view that Saadat Hasan Manto was a writer on Partition and prostitutes. He continued to write what he saw and felt, and he wrote compulsively and prodigiously. In the 43 years that he lived, he published 22 collections of short stories, one novel, five or maybe seven, since his years at the All India Radio were marked by frenetic literary output collections of radio plays, three collections of essays and two collections of sketches of famous personalities one called, aptly enough, Bald Angels!

What is more, despite being located in its time and circumstance, there is a great deal that remains relatable to decades after it was written. This rich lode has been mined repeatedly—by publishers and translators—in English and various regional languages. And, indeed, diversity is the hallmark of this new collection. Manto speaks to his readers most directly and most poignantly in Afterword.

Confessing to a weariness of the spirit, the same gloom he had felt when he left Bombay, now Mumbai, four years ago, he bares his soul and the many hurts and humiliations he has endured, the unkindest cuts being those inflicted by the Progressives.

It is not fair to use literature to get to it. Likewise it is wrong to use the labyrinthine by-lanes of politics to arrive at a literature worthy of its name. Read My Name Is Radha to revisit old favourites and gain new insights into what makes a writer tick. Read it also to understand what makes Manto relevant even today and why his claim to being a storyteller par excellence was not a hollow one.

Rakhshanda Jalil is a writer, translator and literary historian. Click here to read the Mint ePaper Livemint. Join Livemint channel in your Telegram and stay updated. You are now subscribed to our newsletters. Subscribe to newsletters. Internet Not Available. Wait for it… Log in to our website to save your bookmarks. It'll just take a moment. Yes, Continue.

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The Manto you didn’t know

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The other film about Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto: ‘Kali Salwaar’

The film is based on several short stories by Saadat Hassan Manto , one of the greatest modern Urdu writers. The stories take place in the underbelly of Mumbai formerly known as Bombay. Sultana Sadiya Siddiqui , a small town prostitute and her pimp Khudabaksh migrate to the metropolis bringing with them their dreams and meagre belongings. Initially she is bewildered by the crowds and pace of the city.


Kali Shalwar




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