Indian actress-filmmaker Nandita Das is happy to have had the Bangladesh premiere of her acclaimed film Manto at the ongoing Dhaka Lit Fest.
The film, which features the life of celebrated and controversial Urdu writer Saadat Hossain Manto, had its Bangladesh premiere on the opening day of the eighth Dhaka Lit Fest on Thursday at Abdul Karim Shahitya Bisharad Auditorium of Bangla Academy.
The two-hour biopic Manto, which had its premiere in the last edition of Cannes Film Festival, follows the last eight or so years (from 1946 to 1955) of the famous Urdu short story writer and the impact of the 1947 partition of India on him.
Following the screening, Das, in an interview with New Age, said, ‘I am happy that Manto had its Bangladesh Premiere at the Dhaka Lit Fest,’ said Das, who earlier attended Dhaka Lit Fest in 2012.
There have been very few films on writers so I chose to make a film on Manto as he appears to be very relevant to us today. In Manto’s life, there are interweaved questions of identity, nationality, religion, caste, freedom of expression. All these issues remain relevant today too, said Das.
In Manto, Das added, there is no attempt to make the writer a hero; rather the film depicts his life and his time that was one of the most troubled times in the history of the Indian subcontinent.
Manto also stands for all writers and artists who have been tortured by their society or state. Even today, writers and artists fight for their rights to freedom of expression, said Das, who referred to detained local photographer Shahidul Alam who has been put behind bars since August 5.
Das also called for immediate release of Shahidul Alam. ‘It pains me a lot to see how a pioneer photographer-activist like Shahidul Alam has been detained. Artistes should stand up for his release and the government must release him immediately,’ said Das.
Besides the film, Das also spoke of the contemporary women’s movement, known as #MeToo, which has been gaining momentum in Bangladesh recently.
‘#MeToo has become an empowering movement for women and has taken the world by surprise. The movement, we must not forget, is not against men; it is against the deeply disturbing patriarchal power-practice which invades woman body,’ said Das.
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