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Nandita Das speaks about her first Cannes outing as director for ‘Manto’

Nandita Das gave a glimpse of her directorial venture, ‘Manto’, at the Cannes Film festival on Monday night

Rasika Dugal, Nandita Das and Nawazuddin Siddiqui at Cannes

Nandita Das gave a glimpse of her directorial venture, Manto, at the Cannes Film festival on Monday night. Based on the life of Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto (1912-1955), it has Nawazuddin Siddiqui play the titular role and Rasika Dugal as his wife, Safia. The event was held at the HP Studio at Le Majestic at the French Riviera.

Speaking from Cannes, Nandita said, “We showed some footage to set the tone of the film. Later, Nawaz read a few passages of Manto’s work in Urdu while I did the English translations. I had selected certain portions from his writings that reflect his thoughts on art, literature and freedom of expression. Lyricist Swanand Kirkire, who is also part of the film and at Cannes, attended the event. We even showed a short film on the the making of Manto.”

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Celebrated author Paulo Coelho sent a heartwarming video message for Manto that was aired at the event. Adds Nandita, “I have attended the Cannes festival several times in the past. I have been on the jury, attended screenings, raised funds for films, but this is the first time I am at the French Riveria as a director. As a filmmaker, it is important to create a buzz (around your movie). There is a lot of hard work involved in making a film, so it has to reach the audience. It has to be shared with lots and lots of people.”

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Nandita Das points out that the Cannes film fest may appear to be about red carpet fashion, but that’s just one aspect of it prestigious event. “Ultimately, it depends on what you want to focus on — films or fashion, it is your choice,” she adds.

On their return to Mumbai, the team will work on the last schedule, she says. “We still have about 12 days of shoot left.”

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