Nandita Das’ film Manto, based on the tumultuous life of writer Saadat Hasan Manto, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival 2018 to a packed theatre. The biopic left the audience stunned as they stayed on to congratulate the film’s team. After the screening, female lead Rasika Dugal also shared her experience at the prestigious film festival and talked about the film’s reception to IANS. She said, “I could feel that the audience was with the film and the story while we were watching. People seemed to have genuinely connected with the film and were quite moved.” Rasika plays the role of Manto’s (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) wife Safia.
After the screening, the biographical film starring Nawazuddin in the titular role got rave reviews. In his review for Hollywood Reporter, Deborah Young writes, “DP Kartik Vijay creates an arresting ambience in scene after scene, working with Rita Ghosh’s stunning sets of old Calcutta and Bombay, which give way to the postwar shabbiness of Lahore under reconstruction. The dramatized short stories are aptly translated to the screen with a dreamlike sordidness. Siddiqui hurls Manto’s talent, wit, self-destructiveness and tragic gravity at the world like a punch in the stomach.”
Screen Daily’s movie critic Wendy Ide writes, “Nandita Das has assembled a first-rate crew, with Rita Ghosh’s atmospheric production design a particular stand out. The contrast between the well-appointed privilege of life among Mumbai’s literary elite and the blighted, scarred streets of Lahore is stark. It mirrors the change in Manto’s increasingly embattled state of mind. Always impressive, Siddiqui is as commanding presence as Manto.”