Manto's death anniversary: His beloved Bombay

Jan 14, 2019, 08:00 IST | Snigdha Hasan

On Manto's death anniversary, a series of dramatised readings bring to light his lesser-known stories

Manto's death anniversary: His beloved Bombay
Illustration/Uday Mohite

Main chalta phirta Bambai hoon," declared Saadat Hasan Manto in one of his many stories that meandered through the bylanes of a city he lived in for only 12 years, but which continued to reside in his heart long after. This Friday marks his 64th death anniversary, and to celebrate the iconic writer and his love for the city, Manto ki Bambai, a series of dramatised readings of his lesser-known works will be presented at multiple venues. The four-day event has been conceptualised by Jameel Gulrays, founder of Katha Kathan, an initiative that aims to bring people closer to Indian languages through literature.

"Manto continues to remain relevant today. Just consider these lines he wrote decades ago, 'Yeh mat kaho ki ek lakh Hindu mare hain, ya ek lakh musalman. Yeh kaho ki do lakh insaan mare hain' [It's not one lakh Hindus, or Muslims who have died. Call it the death of two lakh human beings]," says Gulrays, who, along with his team will present nine of Manto's works, where he presents a picture of the city's glamorous world and its underbelly.

A rehearsal in progress
A rehearsal in progress

While Sahay is a story that hints at why Manto chose to go to Pakistan despite being pained at having to leave Bombay, Khushiya is a hard-hitting work about the ego of a man. Then there is Dr Shirodkar, which is the story of a reputed Bombay gynaecologist and what transpires when a patient from Sholapur arrives at his hospital. "We have also included light-hearted sketches and stories by Manto such as Sone ki Angoothi and Tasveer. And you will crack up listening to them," informs Gulrays. "Manto could truly make people laugh."

On January 16, 3 pm to 5 pm, Mumbai Press Club, Fort; January 17, 11 am to 1 pm, Sathaye College, Vile Parle East; January 18, 6 pm to 8 pm, St Andrew's Centre for Philosophy & Performing Arts, Bandra West; January 20, 4 pm to 6 pm, first floor, adjacent to Abhinay Katta, Thane West.
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