Mumbai: After Indian filmmaker Nandita Das expressed her disappointment about her film “Manto” not getting cleared for release in Pakistan, Pakistan’s Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry has extended help while an online petition has urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to lift a ban on its screening.
“Disappointed that Manto will not be seen in theatres in Pakistan. I was keen as he belongs to both countries equally,” Nandita had tweeted on Saturday.
Her post, which included the link of an article — which she penned for a news website, explaining why the film won’t be crossing India’s borders — led Chaudhry to respond.
“I am trying to pursue importers to bring this movie to Pak(istan). I hope someone will definitely take risk of showing a less commercial film to the viewers,” he wrote of the film, which traces the life of writer Saadat Hasan Manto.
Nandita, who has herself featured in a Pakistani film titled “Ramchand Pakistani”, responded with “Shukriya”.
Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui had brought the character to life in the movie, which follows the most tumultuous years in the life of the writer and those of India and Pakistan where Manto inhabited and chronicled.
Danyal Gilani, Chairman, Pakistan’s Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC), told via social media: “‘Manto’ wasn’t cleared by the Board as the members found it in violation of the censorship code.”
However, he said an importer had the right to request a review. Industry sources from Pakistan told that nobody was importing “Manto” as it lacked “commercial appeal”. Nandita on Saturday said the reasons cited by the Pakistan censor board for not clearing “Manto” were that “the film has anti-Partition narrative theme and explicit scenes, which is against the norms of Pakistani society”.
According to Dawn newspaper, an online petition has been initiated to demand that Prime Minister Imran Khan lift a ban on its screening.
The open letter says: “‘Manto’, a critically acclaimed film, directed by Nandita Das, celebrates the life of the Urdu writer who chose Pakistan as his home during the Partition but is collectively owned and revered by the people of the sub-continent. The audiences and critics worldwide have appreciated the film.
“However, it is a matter of huge concern that Pakistan has recently decided to ban the film. The disappointing decision to ban the film has created a hue and cry among writers, poets and intellectuals in the literary circles of Pakistan”.
This is a ray of hope for Nandita. Appreciating the efforts, the actress-filmmaker tweeted on Sunday: “I am grateful to the activists, writers, artists and concerned citizens in Pakistan who have spontaneously come together and signed an open letter to their PM.”