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No Fear No Favour

“…and it is also possible, that Saadat Hasan dies, but Manto remains alive.” : B’day Special

By Line: Shivendra Pandey

Saadat Hasan Manto was born on 11-05-1912 in Ludhiana in the state of Punjab, India. After partition Manto’s Punjab became the part of Pakistan. He was a Pakistani Writer, Playwright, Author, Novelist, Essayist, Screenwriter & Translator.

He began his literature career with an Urdu translation and during his beginning career, he was very much inspired by the real writers of Franch and Russia such as Anton, Hugo, Maxim Gorky and Chekhov. 

In 1934, Saadat Hasan Manto first came to Bombay (now Mumbai) and started to write for magazines, newspapers and writing scripts for the Hindi Film Industry. During this time, he became good friends with Noor Jehan, Ismat Chughtai, Naushad, Shyam and Ashoke Kumar. During this time, he lived in Foras Lane, in the centre of Bombay’s red light area of Kamathipura. What he saw then around him had a profound impact on his writings. Subsequently Manto had also accepted the job of writing for Urdu Service of All India Radio in 1941.

The books written by Saadat Hasan Manto are as follows– Atish Paray (1936), Toba Tek Singh (1955), Thanda Goshta (1950), Kaali Shalwar (1961), Manto ke Afsane (1944), Afsane aur dramay (1943), Manto Ki Behtareen Kahanian (1963) and many  others like Bombay Stories, Selected Stories, etc..

As a resident of Bombay, Manto had intended to stay in India after partition. In 1948, his wife and children went to Lahore to visit their relatives and friends. During this time, as stories of the atrocities of partition riots reached him, in the midst of occasional communal riots in Mumbai itself, he decided to migrate to Pakistan, and left for it by ship. Manto and his family thus found themselves as “Muhajirs” (refugees from India) and were among the millions of Muslims who left present-day India for the new Muslim-majority nation of Pakistan.

When Manto arrived in Lahore from Bombay, he lived near and associated with several prominent intellectuals including Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Nasir Kazmi, Ahmad Rahi and Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi. They all used to gather at Lahore’s iconic Pak Tea House, witness to some of the most fiery literary debates and passionate political arguments back in 1948–49. Pak Tea House holds a special place in the memories of those who know about Lahore’s vibrant literary and cultural past. “There was absolutely no external influence and people would share their opinions on any subject without fear even during the military dictators’ regimes.” In Lahore, Manto lived with his wife and family in a room in Lakshmi mansion, located near Butt Tikka.

On 18 January 2005, the fiftieth anniversary of his death, Manto was commemorated on a Pakistani postage stamp. On 14 August 2012 which is Pakistan’s Independence Day, Saadat Hasan Manto was posthumously awarded the Nishan-e-Imtiaz award (Distinguished Service to Pakistan Award) by the Government of Pakistan.

In 2015, Pakistani actor and director Sarmad Khoosat made and released a movie, Manto, based on the life of Manto. In 2018, the British Broadcasting Corporation named the work Toba Tek Singh among the 100 stories that shaped the world, alongside works by authors like Homer and Virginia Woolf.

The 2018 film Manto, made by Nandita Das and starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui, is a Bollywood film based on the life of Manto.

In his later years, Manto had become increasingly alcoholic, which eventually led to Cirrhosis of the liver. He died on 18 January 1955, in an apartment located off Hall Road in Lahore. His death was attributed to the effects of alcoholism. He was survived by his wife Safia and daughters Nighat, Nuzhat and Nusrat. His daughter Nighat Bashir Patel still lives in the vicinity of the house where Manto lived.

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