Before we get to see Nandita Das' take on Manto's life in its full feature-length glory, the filmmaker has sneaked us a snippet in the form of her short film In Defence of Freedom.
The six-minute film, which was screened at India Today Conclave 2017, is a prelude to the feature film Manto and features Nawazuddin Siddiqui as the illustrious writer Saadat Hasan Manto in a classroom setting. Nawaz is shown speaking to students about the need for freedom of speech.
"People often ask me, 'Why do you write such stories?' (containing obscene content)."
"Why shouldn't I?" he replies. "Why not present things the way they are?"
At that point, someone walks out, unable to listen any longer and Manto is prompted to ask: "Will denying the truth make us a better person?"
Then he tells his students why it's necessary for literature to evolve with the times. "It is important that with the changing times, literature should also adapt."
But if someone has a problem with his writing, then... "If you can't stand my writing, then that means the times have become intolerable."
"I believe everything that's in front of you should be written about," stating that freedom of speech should not be restricted.
Manto, the feature film, will "cover a period of seven years between 1946 and 1952 [in Manto's life]," the director had said in an earlier statement. The release date is yet to be announced.