Thursday 23rd June 2016 at 5.30pm – Manto – Uncovering Pakistan
Sarfraz Manzoor tells the story of Pakistani writer Sa’adat Manto and assesses his legacy.
Sa’adat Hassan Manto was a writer who confronted social taboos in Indio-Pakistani society. Even though he died in 1955, an alcoholic and penniless, his work still speaks to 21st century Pakistan.
“If you find my stories dirty, the society you are living in is dirty. With my stories, I only expose the truth.” (Manto).
Born in Punjab in what was then British India on 11 May 1912, Manto died aged only 42 in Punjab, by then Pakistan. As a film and radio script writer, a journalist and most significantly as short story writer in Urdu, he chronicled the chaos that prevailed in the run up to, during and after the Partition of India in 1947. Manto was tried for obscenity six times – three times in British India and three times in Pakistan, but he was never convicted.
“A writer picks up his pen only when his sensibility is hurt.” (Manto).
Often compared with DH Lawrence, Manto wrote about topics considered to be social taboos in Indio-Pakistani society. With stories such as Atishparay (Nuggets of Fire), Bu (Odour),Thanda Gosht (Cold Meat) and Shikari Auratein (Women of Prey), he portrayed the darkness of the human psyche and the collective madness of the social and political changes around him.
“If you cannot bear these stories then society is unbearable. Who am I to remove the clothes of this society, which itself is naked. I don’t even try to cover it, because that is not my job. That is the job of dressmakers.” (Manto).
With the help of Manto’s three daughters, Nusrat, Nighat and Nuzhat, as well as writers and scholars like Ayesha Jalal, Suniya Qureshi, Preti Taneja and Mohammed Hanif, presenter Sarfraz Mansoor tells Manto’s story and assesses his legacy.