Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Saadat Hasan Manto

Saadat Hasan Manto (1912-55) was the leading Urdu short-story writer of the twentieth century. He was born on 11 May 1912 at Samrala in Punjab's Ludhiana district. Educated at Aligarh, he worked for All India Radio during World War II and was a successful screenwriter in Bombay before moving to Pakistan after partition. In a literary, journalistic, radio scripting and film-writing career spread over more than two decades, he produced around 250 stories, scores of plays and a large number of essays. He wrote over a dozen films, including Eight Days, Chal Chal Re Naujawan and Mirza Ghalib. The last one was shot after Manto moved to Pakistan in January 1948. During his controversial two-decade career, Manto published twenty-two collections of stories, seven collections of radio plays, three collections of essays, and a novel.
MANTO is among the Urdu writers who have portrayed the horrors of Partition in a stark manner. His first story, Tamasha was, however, inspired by the massacre of Jallianwala Bagh. After that he wrote plays, radio talks and essays besides short stories. His portrayal of human failings touches the reader for its honesty and truthfulness.

Innumerable novels, short stories and poems have been written on the unbelievable violence that took place with the Partition of the country in 1947. More than a million innocent men, women and children: Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs were massacred in cold blood. From the literature produced on the subject, without doubt, the most powerful were the writings of Saadat Hasan Manto in Urdu. His one short story Toba Tek Singh describes the beginnings of the tragedy and the lunatic heights reached (Manto was for a while a patient in the Lahore mental asylum).

Saadat Hasan Manto is generally considered the greatest short story writer of the Urdu language, centered on the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent. Manto is known for being part of Urdu literature’s Progressive Writers Movement. Manto touched the hearts of many with his convincing and utterly original portrayal of human fallibility. He died several months short of his 43rd birthday in January 1955 in Lahore.

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