Mantostaan Review – It’s a collection of Saadat Hasan Manto’s short stories

A still from Mantostaan

A short film meant for the web, Mantostaan has found its way to theatres

Movie name – Mantostaan

Director – Rahat Kazmi

Cast – Raghuvir Yadav, Virendra Saxena, Sonal Sehgal, Rahat Kazmi, Raina Bassnet and Shoib Shah

Bollywood Garam rating – 2/5

Directed by Rahat Kazmi, Mantostaan is an 87 minute movie which is a web production but it somehow found its way to the theatres. Kazmi explores the horrors at the time of Partition through Saadat Hasan Manto’s four stories, Khol Do, Thanda Gosht, Aakhri Salute and Assignment. These stories talk about how the division of India and creation of Pakistan caused neighbors and childhood friends to become each other’s enemies.

A Sikh man’s libido is awakened by the daily looting of jewelry and slaughter of Muslims. A father is separated from his daughter while trying to escape murderous mobs in Amritsar. A Pakistani and Indian soldier rekindle their childhood friendship while guarding border posts in Peer Panjal range, Kashmir. An elderly man who is dying remembers the Sikh neighbor who would come over with sweets every year for Eid.

The all-round unprofessional filmmaking, shines bright in the tackily staged riot sequences, in the inducing moving camera, the slapdash home video feel, the high pitched emotions and all round bad performances from non-actors who can’t even say their dialogues properly. No wonder, then veterans like Raghuvir Yadav and Virendra Saxena seem utterly disinterested. Manto would be better read than seen in Mantostaan.

It seems like the searing tale has been lost in translation. It is a forced construct and comes off flat, both in treatment and performance. It is only the power of the original material which breaks through once in a while and hold us.

The 1 hour 32 minute movie was initially released in 2016 and stars Raghuvir Yadav, Virendra Saxena, Sonal Sehgal, Rahat Kazmi, Raina Bassnet and Shoib Shah. The film was also premiered at Cannes Film Festival 2016!