Nawazuddin Siddiqui Play A “Manto” Biopic in Bollywood

Nawazuddin Siddiqui

Old Hindi films and songs are appreciated by B-Town and the audience even today. Now, going a step further, several film-makers are in the process of making biopics on popular yesteryear cinema icons.

While Nawazuddin Siddiqui will play writer Saadat Hasan Manto in Nandita Das’ next film, a movie based on the love story of poet-lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi and Amrita Pritam is also in the pipeline. It will be produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and is likely to star Irrfan Khan. “I have grown up reading his stories. I’ve also watched several plays based on Manto’s works.

He used to be criticised for writing vulgar stories, but, at the same time, was called a progressive writer. He would always say that as human beings, we should be progressive,” says Nawaz.

Bhansali, on the other hand, feels that Ludhianvi “had a legacy”, and a love story like his “deserves to be told”. “When the script came to me, it was so wonderful that I wanted to direct it. But then, I decided to produce it. It’s an important film for us.

This movie is my way of giving back to cinema for his immense contribution,” he says. Other icons to have caught the attention of film-makers and actors include Guru Dutt, RD Burman, Kishore Kumar, Madhubala and Meena Kumari.

So, while Kangana Ranaut will play Meena Kumari in director Tigmanshu Dhulia’s film, Aamir Khan is reportedly interested in playing singer Kishore Kumar in a movie. “The biggest advantage of making such films with the stories of such icons is that they automatically get a big marketing push, because they are based on popular figures,” says Tigmanshu.

But experts point out that working on such projects is a challenge. “They have to be handled delicately. You need a mature writer, director and cast to do full justice to such iconic stories,” says trade analyst Taran Adarsh.

Highlighting another challenge, Tigmanshu says, “You need to be careful as a film-maker in India. While working on such stories, you hide the negatives and focus mostly on the positive aspects of a person’s life, as their family members might raise objections. So, you have to balance things out.”

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