Manto more relevant than ever: Rasika Dugal
The actor says her upcoming film, which traces the life of Urdu writer Sadat Hassan Manto, resonates with the current wave of dissent
At a time when artistes in India are fighting for freedom of expression, Rasika Dugal says her upcoming film Manto, which traces the life of Urdu short story writer Sadat Hassan Manto, "unfortunately" resonates with the current wave of dissent and emotions.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali's historical drama Padmavati has been facing protests from religious and political groups, and some of them have even issued violent threats. Another row has erupted over the films S Durga and Nude.
"I think there is a threat to the freedom of speech in every aspect, not just in cinema. Therefore, Manto is more relevant today than ever unfortunately. I wish it wasn't like this," says Rasika, who adds, "We are struggling with the same issue in a big way. Death of freedom of speech is one thing that I am worried about and worried that it will affect cinema and other art forms."
Manto, who died in 1955 at the age of 43, has an impressive body of work touching various genres. He churned out 22 collections of stories, a novel, essays, personal sketches and film scripts. One of his literary gems was a story about Mirza Ghalib, a poet often compared with William Shakespeare. The writer's work also gained attention for stories around the ordeal of India's partition as well as sexuality.
Nandita Das is directing Manto, which features Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the title role. Rasika will be seen as Safia Manto, Manto's wife.
The actor says, "It is a very special film for me. This project has given me a lot of recognition because of the kind of reputation that Nandita and Nawaz have. Manto has influenced me a lot since my college days, so I am happy to be associated with this project, and to be able to delve into his writing and life more."
Rasika says she had fun working with Nandita and Nawazuddin. "I thought they would be very serious... That is the impression people have about them. But, they are a lot of fun and are quite crazy. We shared a common sense of humour and had a lot of fun. It was a good relief from the seriousness of the script," says the actor, who has projects like Hamid and Reincarnation in her kitty.
Manto will be in theatres by the middle of next year, and Rasika hopes the film gets the "release it deserves."