100 Years of Sa’adat Hasan Manto


 

 

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           August 02 , 2012           00.40 A.M.

This year is the Anniversary Year of so many historical and literary figures and luminaries of our generation . Anniversaries of various historical events are also being celebrated this year . These anniversary celebrations , as I remember , took momentum from 2010 . Or may be , since I was not into blogging , I never realized or became aware of their existence .

In 2010 we celebrated 2 anniversaries . They were ; 100 YEARS OF HISTORIC JUMP OF VEER SAVARKAR , and 150 YEARS OF TAGORE .

In 2011 there were 6 anniversaries . They were as varied as ; 40 YEARS OF VIJAY DIWAS & BIRTH OF BANGLADESH , 50 YEARS OF THE LIBERATION OF GOA , DAMAN & DIU , 100 YEARS OF OUR NATIONAL ANTHEM , 100 YEARS OF NEW DELHI , 150 YEARS OF MAHAMANA MALVIYA and 250YEARS OF THE 3RD BATTLE OF PANIPAT .

This year only half of 2012 is over and we have already celebrated 4 anniversaries . They are ; 60 YEARS OF CORONATION OF QUEEN ELIZABETH II , 150 YEARS OF THE 1ST CHRISTIAN SAINT OF INDIA , 150 YEARS OF SWAMI VIVEKANANDA and 200 YEARS OF CHARLES DICKENS .

Now I am writing about the 5th , 100 YEARS OF SA’ADAT HASAN MANTO .

8 more anniversaries are tempting me to write a blog on them . It comes to total 13 anniversaries in 2012 .

Quite early in my life , I was slowly introduced to Indian literature , then English literature and finally Russian and world literature . In Indian literature my first brush was with Bengali literature . Hindi literature came later and then came Urdu literature . Other Indian literature , translated in Hindi , came much later in my life .

Indian Books 3

Indian Books (Photo credit: Celeste33)

When I talk about Urdu literature , I must make a note that my first introduction was through the poetry . Shairi , as Urdu poetry is known , was my early fascination . HIND POCKET BOOKS came out with Hindi transliteration [ not translation ] of various works of Shairs or poets of Urdu . I bought them and became familiar with Urdu poetry and grew into a life long fan . I still remember many Urdu couplets or Sher by heart .

The phrase Zaban-e Urdu-e Mualla (

The phrase Zaban-e Urdu-e Mualla (“The language of the exalted camp”) written in Nasta’liq script. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Urdu prose came much later in my life . Kishan Chandar was the first Urdu novelist , whose works I read and admired . I have heard about Sa’adat Hasan Manto and his works during those days but I didn’t read him as he was despised by large number of people including my teachers and was vehemently criticized by the critics and intelligentsia .

English: manto in his middle age.

Sa’adat Hasan Manto in his middle age. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So naturally I avoided reading him . In my mind he was akin to novelists like Kushwaha Kant and Ibn – e – Shafi B.A. Though hugely popular , these two authors are not considered as men of letters . Now I am very much ashamed that once upon a time I thought so low of Manto and degraded him .

My impression about him changed when I read his memoirs about the famous personalities of Hindi film industry . I was impressed with his style of prose writing and lucidity of  language .

Sa’adat Hassan Manto (May 11, 1912 – January 18, 1955)  is best known for his short stories, “Bu” , “Khol Do” , “Thanda Gosht” , and his magnum opus, “Toba Tek Singh“.

Manto was also a film and radio scriptwriter and a journalist . In his short life , he published twenty-two collections of short stories , one novel , five collections of radio plays , three collections of essays , and two collections of personal sketches.

Manto was tried for obscenity six times, thrice before 1947 and thrice after 1947 in Pakistan , but never convicted . Some of his works have been translated in other languages .

Saadat Hasan Manto is often compared with D. H. Lawrence , and like Lawrence he also wrote about the topics considered social taboos in Indo-Pakistani Society . His concerns on the sociopolitical issues , from local to global level are revealed in his series , Letters to Uncle Sam , and those to Pandit Nehru . On his writing he often commented , “If you find my stories dirty , the society you are living in is dirty . With my stories, I only expose the truth .”

After 1936 , he moved to Bombay  [ now Mumbai ] where he stayed for the next 5 years editing Musawwir , a monthly film magazine . He also started writing scripts and dialogues for Hindi films , including ” Kishan Kanhaiya ” [ 1936 ]  and ” Apni Nagariya ” [ 1939 ] . He continued writing for films until he left for Delhi in January 1941 .

Manto accepted the job of writing for Urdu Service of All India Radio in 1941. This proved to be his most productive period as in the next eighteen months he published over four collections of radio plays , Aao , Manto ke Drame , Janaze , and Teen Auraten . He continued to write short stories and his next short story collection Dhuan was soon out followed by Manto ke Afsane and his first collection of topical essays , Manto ke Mazamin . This period culminated with the publication of his mixed collection Afsane aur Drame in 1943 . Meanwhile , due to a quarrel with then director of the All India Radio , poet N. M. Rashid , he left his job and returned to Bombay in July 1942 and again started working with film industry . He entered his best phase in screenwriting giving films like ” Aatth Din ” , ” Chal Chal Re Naujawanand ” Mirza Ghalib ” , which was finally released in 1954 .

Some of his best short stories also came from this phase including  “Kaali Shalwar” ,  “Dhuan”  (1943) and “Bu”, which was published in Qaumi Jang (Bombay) in February 1945 . Another highlight of his second phase in Bombay was the publication of an important collection of his stories , Chugad . He stayed in Bombay until he moved to Pakistan in January 1948 after the partition of India in 1947.

During those days in Pakistan , Manto tried his hand at newspaper column writing . He started off with writing under the title Chashm-e-Rozan for daily Maghribi Pakistan on the insistence of his friends of Bombay days , Ehsan Ba and Murtaza Jillani, who were editing that paper . After a few columns, the space appeared blank under the column saying that due to his indisposition Manto couldn’t write the column. Actually, the owner was not favourably disposed to some of the content .

The only paper that published Manto’s articles regularly for quite some time was Daily Afaq , for which he wrote some of his well-known sketches . These sketches were later collected in his book Ganjay Farishtay . The sketches include those of famous actors and actresses like Ashok Kumar, Shyam, Nargis, Noor Jehan and Naseem (mother of Saira Banu) . He also wrote about some literary figures like Meera Ji , Hashar Kashmiri and Ismat Chughtai . Manto’s sketch of Muhammad Ali Jinnah was also first published in Afaq under the title Mera Sahib.

He , during his later years in Pakistan , embarked on a journey of self-destruction . The substandard alcohol that he consumed destroyed his liver and in the winter of 1955 he fell victim to liver cirrhosis . He was 42 years old at the time of his death. He was survived by his wife Safiyah and three daughters . Born in 1912 in Samrala , Ludhiana district of Indian Punjab , he died in 1955 in Lahore , Pakistani Punjab .

This year in 2012 India and Pakistan , both the countries , are celebrating his anniversary .

Manto collection (Books)

  • Atishparay (Nuggets Of Fire) – 1936
  • Chugaad
  • Manto Ke Afsanay (Stories of Manto) – 1940
  • Dhuan (Smoke) – 1941
  • Afsane Aur Dramay (Fiction and Drama) – 1943
  • Lazzat-e-Sang-1948 (The Taste Of Rock)
  • Siyah Hashiye-1948 (Black Borders)
  • Badshahat Ka Khatimah (The End of Kingship) – 1950
  • Khali Botlein (Empty Bottles) – 1950
  • Loud Speaker
  • Nimrud Ki Khudai (Nimrod The God) – 1950
  • Thanda Gosht (Cold Meat) – 1950
  • Yazid – 1951
  • Pardey Ke Peechhey (Behind The Curtains) – 1953
  • Sarak Ke Kinarey (By the Roadside) – 1953
  • Baghair Unwan Ke (Without a Title) – 1954
  • Baghair Ijazit (Without Permission) – 1955
  • Burquey – 1955
  • Phunduney (Tassles) – 1955
  • Sarkandon Ke Peechhey (Behind The Reeds) -1955
  • Shaiytan (Satan) – 1955
  • Shikari Auratein (Women Of Prey) – 1955
  • Ratti, Masha, Tolah-1956
  • Kaali Shalwar (Black Pants) – 1961
  • Manto Ki Behtareen Kahanian (Best Stories of Manto) – 1963
  • Tahira Se Tahir (From Tahira to Tahir) – 1971

I was re – introduced to him and his literary world , when I started training Dino Morea recently . We read several stories written by Manto and discussed them and thus a new vision about Manto was opened in front of my eyes . I deeply regret that once upon a time I degraded him in my mind and didn’t read his books earlier .

[ List of the works of Manto and some dates and facts of his life is taken from Wikipedia . I express my gratitude . ]

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

www.vidur.co.in

www.vidurfilms.com

www.twitter.com/VidurChaturvedi

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2 Responses

  1. Hello sir, my name is Ayushi. I am grand daughter of Sri Kushwaha Kant’s daughter. I do not have any collection of my super grand father. Can you let me know where can I find his novels? I would be very thankful to you sir please.

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    • Hi Ayushi , I am so delighted to hear from you. I am a huge fan of your great-grandfather. Read many novels of his during my school, college days in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. I don’t remember the name of publication houses, but I think all the novels were published from Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. I must be having one or two novels of him in my personal library in Deoria, Uttar Pradesh. I am going there in May. Let me do research. I will definitely contact you in May. Regards!

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