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Why the Manto ban is bad

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THE ban on the film on Manto made in India by Nandita Das must be rescinded because it is a bad and indefensible action on more counts than one.

First of all, banning a work of art is a serious matter and it should be resorted to as rarely as possible and only in extraordinary situations. These conditions have not been observed in the present case. Nandita Das has exercised her right, which belongs to anyone who wishes to make a film on Saadat Hasan Manto, to interpret the celebrated writer’s life and work in a way that appeals to her. She has emphasised Manto’s commitment to telling society the truth it does not want to face. For explaining Manto’s art as a storyteller she has offered dramatised versions of his three short stories and the method has worked.

She is also keen to present the loving human being Manto was, and how much he cared not only for his wife and their daughters but also for the hungry, dirty street urchin. She has made a film that, despite some awkward moments here and there, holds the viewer in its grip from beginning to end. And Nawazuddin has done well in the title role. Perhaps somebody else will deal with this subject better. What all this means is that the film is commendable cinema that does not deserve the axe.

Two reasons have reportedly been advanced to justify the ban. First, it is said that the film questions the creation of Pakistan. This is an utterly preposterous suggestion. There is........

© Dawn