Nandita Das' Manto heralded the second edition of the Singapore South Asian International Film Festival on Friday night. Relevant to the times the world is passing through, a world that has become almost hostile to differing views and opinions and is tragically divisive, Manto, probes the sensitivity and suffering of a brilliant Pakistani writer, Sadat Hassan Manto. Uprooted from his beloved Bombay and forced into a new home in Pakistan, he was terribly unhappy, took to excessive drinking, but wrote brilliant prose and poetry, including hundreds of stories, essays and poems that brutally examined societal ills, especially those borne by prostitutes.
Manto, which premiered at Cannes last May, is now travelling to Busan and London.
The Festival, which will run till October 14, has a fascinating mix of features, shorts and documentaries curated from South Asia. Of the eight fiction features, four are world premiers – Reunion, Video Parlour, Midnight Delhi and Mulshi Pattern.
These films have vividly different themes. While Murari M Rakshit's Reunion (which stars two fantastic actors, Parambrata Chatterjee, well known for his Hindi work, Kahani, and Moon Moon Sen's daughter, Raima Sen ) plots Kolkata's Left campus politics, Pravin Tarde's Mulshi Pattern is the story of an affluent Maharashtrian farmer, Rakesh Rawat's Midnight Delhi talks about the tragic destinies of several people in Delhi on a night of strange happenings and Video Parlour takes us to a nostalgia revolving around a video parlour.
The other movies in the Festival have been picked from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, and includes India's Oscars offering, Village Rockstar, helmed by Rima Das.