Actor and director Nandita Das on Sunday said that the beauty about art is that pain gives rise to something stronger and deeper.
Das, whose 2018 film ‘Manto’ on famous Urdu author Saadat Hasan Manto would be screened at the 24th Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF), said the writer had produced his best stories in his worst times.
“It is true artistes, writers, filmmakers flourish most when they go through really bad times,” the actor said.
At the same time, she came up with the reference of Ritwik Ghatak and Satyajit Ray as a counter-point and exceptions to her initial argument.
“I don’t know if there is a direct connection. Because great filmmakers such as Ritwik Ghatak and Satyajit Ray, processed life differently and reacted to life differently.
“However, the beauty about art remains that pain gives rise to something stronger, something deeper,” she observed while delivering the Satyajit Ray Memorial Lecture at the 24th KIFF.
Speaking on the present situation in the world, Das said, “In a way for me, doing Manto was a great pain. As the world today is so full of strife, which is constantly dividing us and telling us how we are different.”
Stating that sectarian violence was causing fissures in humanity, she said, “We are divided in the name of religion, caste, gender and colour of skin.”
Tracing the life of Manto, who died in 1955 in Lahore at the age of 43, Das said, “Manto had spoken the inconvenient truth and faced hardships in his life. It happens to many of us till this date, when people get imprisoned and I am trolled.”
She said to do a film on ‘Manto’ was not just to introduce viewers to the man he was.
“It is rather to support the Mantos that exist today. The film will make us uncomfortable collectively as a society,” she said.
Saying that the concern, struggle and dilemma of Manto resonated deeply in her own dilemma, struggle and concerns, Das said, “Both my directorial films – Firaaq and Manto – were borne out of compulsions to tell these stories of struggle.”
Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays the character of writer Saadat Hasan Manto in the film.
Describing Manto as “one of the pioneers of progressive writing,” Das described him as a “deeply sensitive and secular human.”
Manto was “very free spirited”, she said.
The “only time he did not write (was) during partition.
Some of his famous partition violence stories were written later, Das said during her lecture.