“Even if I don’t like a film, whether it is ‘Padmavati‘ or xyz, how can I not want to let people watch it? So I am fiercely for Freedom of Expression,” says actor and director Nandita Das in an exclusive interview with SheThePeople.TV. Das also spoke about her much-awaited film ‘Manto’ and said, “’Manto’ is also a very personal story and not political film. At the same time, everything is political because you are putting forth a point of view.”


In 2016, Das released a teaser of her film to show and she revealed that the scene released is not even in the film. She said that during her pre-production days when a media house came to her and proposed to release a bit of the film as a teaser, she agreed. And while the scene is not in the film, she admits that the words are his. “It is Manto’s words that are so relevant even today. The idea of doing the film is to respond to what we are grappling with today.”

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Das plans to release the film in mid-2018.

On the reaction she received after the trailer, the actor said, “There are lots of people who don’t know Manto at all and there are few who know a lot, so I always find a big range. Those who didn’t know were very intrigued that he was so modern. They didn’t realize that the man speaking was of the 1940s. And they asked me how much of it was Manto’s lines and I said all of it.”

“When we see Manto, we realize how progressive and ahead of his times he was. I haven’t tried to put him on a pedestal through this film. Instead, I feel that Manto is relevant and how we can bring our Mantoiyat or Mantoness. We all have that dormant Mantoness — it means the will to speak the truth,” Das added.

“You cannot do any creative work if you are going to self-censor. Secondly, you cannot start with the premise that there will be a problem. Let’s give art a chance and if you don’t like it, then don’t watch it.”


Das has always been very vocal about her views on society. While talking about Manto, she also spoke about the country’s current political fabric. She expressed that the will to be who you are is being challenged these days because of the social norms or political climate. “Everyone is telling us how to become a part of the herd and it takes a lot of courage to even be yourself.”

Even in the current social scenario, where the censor board is censoring films left, right and centre, Das is very confident about releasing Manto. “You cannot do any creative work if you are going to self-censor. Secondly, you cannot start with the premise that there will be a problem. Let’s give art a chance and if you don’t like it then don’t watch it.”


“Today, social media has democratized the whole world. Every person has a voice and an area of influence, use it. Dissent is necessary,” said the director.

Das wrote a letter along with other influential names against the Rohingya crisis and hence she feels that more people should speak on social issues. “Because some day things might happen to you and me. We can’t keep thinking that it is happening to others. If you are against discrimination and believe in a more humane and compassionate society, it is not going to happen on its own,” she said.

More Stories by Poorvi Gupta


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