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 .


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 . ]








Death of Kalpana ; A ” Gul Badan ” Ceases to Exist


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JANUARY 12 , 2012           07.10 P. M.

On January 04 , 2012 Kalpana , yesteryear actor a.k.a. Kalpana Mohan , died in a Pune hospital at the age of 65 . She was battling cancer for 5 years . I do know , the name Kalpana does not ring a familiar bell . Today’s generation is oblivious of her name and ignorant of her work . It is sad state of affair that news of her death appeared in national news papers 6 days later . Even a film news paper like Screen failed to report her death in the latest issue .,

But cine – goers of my generation will always remember her fondly . She did two super hit films like ;ProfessorandTeen Devian ”  in 1962 and 1965 respectively .

Born in Srinagar in a family of freedom fighters , Kalpana was a trained Kathak dancer . At the insistence of Balraj Sahani and Ismat Chughtai she moved to Bombay [ now Mumbai ] and made debut in ” Professor ”  [ 1962 ] , a Shammi Kapoor starrer .

A Poster of Professor

Another Poster of Professor

Later on she worked in another super hit film ” Teen Devian ” [ 1965 ] , a Dev Anand starrer .

A Poster of Teen Devian

Another Poster of Teen Devian

One More Poster of Teen Devian

I remember Shammi Kapoor serenading her with super hit songs  ; Ai Gul Badan ….. Ai Gul Badan and Khuli Palak Me Jhootha Ghussa , Band Palak Men Pyar ……… Jeena Bhi Mushkil ….. Who can forget these immortals songs ; Aawaz De Ke Hamen Tum Bulao ……… or Koi Aayega …. Aayega ….. Aayega …… and Main Chali Main Chali ……. Peechhe Peechhe Jahan …… ?

Shankar Jaikishans super hit music and interesting story plot made this film ” Professor ” a rage in the 60s . Kalpana arrived with a bang .

She then did ” Teen Devian ” in 1965 with Dev Anand . Sachin Dev Burman‘s melodious music added ethereal quality to Kalpana’s beauty . Can any Hindi movie buff forget Dev Anand entreating Kalpana with Kishore Kumar , Asha Bhosle duet , Are Yaar Meri Tum Bhi Ho Ghazab , Ghoonghat To Zara Odho …… ?

Are Yaar Meri .... Song

I still remember another gem from the same movie , Khwab Ho Yaa Tum Koi Haqueeqat ….. Kaun Ho Tum Batlao ….. Mr. Dev Anand singing this song on piano and Kalpana and Simi sharing screen space with him .

Khwab Ho Ya Tum .....Song

In ” Professor ” , she was in solo lead . In ” Teen Devian “ , she shared screen with much senior Nanda and another beauty Simi Gerewal . Still she got top billing .


She just did only couple of films . ” Professor ” [ 1962 ] , ” Naughty Boy ” [ 1962 ] , ” Teen Devian ” [ 1965 ] , ” Saheli ” [ 1965 ] , ” Pyar Kiye Ja ” [ 1966 ] , ” Biwi Aur Makan ” [ 1966 ] , ” Tasveer ” [ 1966 ] and ” Nawab Sirajuddaula ” [ 1967 ] .

She quit films after her marriage with story – screenplay writer Sachin Bhowmick . They both were as different as the chalk is from cheese . So marriage failed . She got married again in 1967 , got divorced again in 1972 and then moved to Pune , where she lived till her death .

I was saddened when I saw a recent photo of Kalpana , which was published in Times of India . Age had dimmed her beauty . An aging and lonely Kalpana Mohan caught my fancy once again . I was not a huge fan of hers but I did like her in films like ; ” Professor ” , ” Teen Devian ” , ” Pyar Kiye Ja “ and  ” Biwi Aur Makaan ” .  In the conservative India of 1965 , ” Teen Devian “ got A Certificate from censors , so the film got famous and the craze was enormous . And I , like other youngsters of my age , was charmed by Kalpana and this film .

I did not like her recent photo and I was pained but I am posting it for the record and for the posterity . This photograph of Kalpana is a sad reminder of the ephemeral world we are living in ; real and reel , both .

Kalpana : Then & Now

Farewell Kalpana ji !

In the last quarter of 2011 , your two illustrious co – stars ; Shammi Kapoor and Dev Anand left us . Now you too have gone !

Mortal people ; immortal memories !








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