Saadat Hassan Manto, who passed away at the age of 43 on this day in 1955, is a prominent name in the archives of Urdu literature. Considered among the greatest contemporary Urdu short story writers of the 20th century, Manto has left a legacy that stretches far and wide.
Manto faced persecution for using his work as a tool to break the status quo and questioning double standards of socially enforced morality. He was tried for obscenity six times; thrice before 1947 in British India, and thrice after independence in 1947 in Pakistan, but never convicted.
He produced 22 collections of short stories, a novel, five series of radio plays, three collections of essays and two collections of personal sketches.
It is ironic that while Manto brings recognition to Pakistan, he still faces censorship in the country as Nandita Das’s biopic starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Manto was not cleared for viewing in Pakistan for “anti-Partition narrative theme and explicit scenes” and a Manto Festival at Alhamra was also postponed due to concerns over “vulgarity”.
On his 64th death anniversary, the Government of Pakistan wrote that “his writings have had a profound impact on millions of readers”.
“He dared to address topics that were typically considered taboo for his time,” it added.
Remembering Saadat Hasan #Manto on his 64th death anniversary. His writings have had a profound impact on millions of readers. He dared to address topics that were typically considered taboo for his time. pic.twitter.com/S9Q6MbXBbH
— Govt of Pakistan (@pid_gov) January 18, 2019
The Punjab Safe Cities Authority (PSCA) also commemorated the writer.
— PSCA (@PSCAsafecities) January 18, 2019
Das also took to Twitter: “Saadat Hasan died on this day, 64 years ago, but Manto lives on. While I hope, in some small way, through the film that I have made, I have been able to capture his empathy, his spirit, his courage. It is an ode not just to the man, but to his thoughts, ideas and convictions.”
“Through his writings, Manto will continue to inspire us to be more honest, free-spirited and fearless. May the Mantoiyat spread far and wide…” she went on to say.
Saadat Hasan died on this day, 64 years ago, but Manto lives on. While I hope, in some small way, through the film that I have made, I have been able to capture his empathy, his spirit, his courage. It is an ode… https://t.co/csVx8HRdTM
— Nandita Das (@nanditadas) January 18, 2019
Another user shared a picture of Manto’s gravestone.
— Waleed Bizenjo (@Bizenjo) January 18, 2019
Rekhta, the Urdu poetry website, shared an excerpt from Manto’s work as a representative of his philosophy.
— Rekhta (@Rekhta) January 18, 2019
Manto’s stories have been translated into Japanese, French and recently in Croatian and he has been the subject of several research theses by students around the world.