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Remembering Manto on his 65th death anniversary

Remembering Manto on his 65th death anniversary

Mehreen Zahra-Malik
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Saadat Hassan Manto is a prominent name in the archives of Urdu literature and considered one of the greatest contemporary Urdu short story writers of the 20th century.

Manto is a name unknown to little considering how much media and coverage the late writer has gotten in recent years. The Urdu writer, who was born in Ludhiana, British India on 11th May 1912, is held in high esteem in the Urdu literary world even today and his works are studied at various institutions across the globe.

The greatest contemporary Urdu writers of the 20th century

Manto is a prominent name in the archives of Urdu literature. Considered among the greatest contemporary Urdu short story writers of the 20th century, Manto has left a legacy that stretches far and wide.

Manto was known to write about the hard truths of society that no one dared to talk about. He is best known for his stories about the partition of India immediately following independence in 1947.

Manto’s greatest gift was his ability to depict the reality of society with such ease that he would leave the reader mesmerised and in utter awe. His attention to minor details and his signature style of description was second to none. Manto was a realist and a puritan who hated hypocrisy in every given way. It was his realistic approach towards the world that made him an outcast and the reason why people shunned him.

Trials and tribulations

Due to the controversial nature of Manto’s work, he was tried for obscenity six times; thrice before 1947 in British India, and thrice after independence in 1947 in Pakistan, but never convicted. One of Manto’s most famous quotes from this time is, “If you find my stories dirty, the society you are living in is dirty. With my stories, I only expose the truth”.

After the government began interfering in his work, he relocated to Lahore.

Manto’s work

He produced 22 collections of short stories, a novel, 5 series of radio plays, 3 collections of essays, 2 collections of personal sketches during the course of a 21-year-long career. His short stories are held in high esteem by writers and critics alike.

With time, people began to connect with Manto’s writing, plummeting him into the spotlight. Over the years, Manto has been the subject of several films, tv plays and stage dramas. In 2015, Pakistani filmmaker, Sarmad Khoosat, released a movie titled ‘Manto’ on his life.

Manto’s stories have been translated into Japanese, French and recently in Croatian. He has been subject of several research theses by various students in the US and UK.

Manto passed away on January 18th 1955 at the age of 42 due to liver cirrhosis.

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