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Nandita Das on Raftaar's 'Mantoiyat': Don't think they'll like Manto just because of the song

Speaking on the panel for 'Would Cinema Survive?', the director of Manto shed light on the decision to include a contemporary rap by Raftaar into the period biopic on the writer, Saadat Hassan Manto. 

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Shriram Iyengar

The release ofthe film Manto has excited literature lovers and fans of the writer Saadat Hassan Manto. Though the film is set in the 1940s, the decision to include a contemporary rap by Raftaar to express Manto's views was a surprise.

On the panel at the Jagran Cinema Summit on Friday in a hotel at Santacruz, Mumbai, director Nandita Das admitted that she was not always too pleased with the decision to include a song.

Das was replying to a statement by Dinesh Vijan, director and producer, Maddock Films stating that small films require a bigger marketing budget. Explaining the strategy behind the recent hit, Stree, Vijan confessed that for a small film to grab the attention of viewers, the only effective medium is television which is biased to music. "I know it sounds ridiculous, but if you don't have music it becomes impossible to sustain a campaign over four weeks."

Manto review: This portrait of Manto is charming, engrossing, but not as provocative as his pen

Replying to that statement, Das confessed that her producers had stepped in with the idea of introducing a rap song by Raftaar for that very purpose. She said, "We have three songs by Sneha Khanwalkar. They are of that time. Now, maybe I am a purist, but my producers decided that they wanted a rap song. Now, please correct me if I am wrong, but the film is set in the 1940s..."

Das expressed surprise at the decision since the trailer had generated good buzz, and also had Nawazuddin Siddiqui starring in it. The actor is riding high on the success of Sacred Games.

Elaborating on the decision, Das said, "They thought this is the best way to reach out to people. In the sense, it did get 16mn views, but does it really translate directly to a film like Manto?" She added, "I don't think just because they like that song they are going to like a film like Manto."

The rap by Raftaar, titled 'Mantoiyat' has Raftaar rapping about the hypocrisies and oppression prevalent in current society despite it being 60 years from Manto's lifetime.

Despite her statement, Das did admit that the music video had worked to generate views on social media. She agreed that while she did not feel it went with the core of the film, it might just prove to be an advantage.

"Maybe it will work, maybe the Raftaar song is a reason why it will be a huge hit," she laughed, before adding that it would help if producers had a little more faith in the subject and designed campaigns keeping with the film's ethos.

"To have a little more faith in the film, to market it in a certain way is important," she stated.

Manto is currently in theatres.

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Jagran Film Festival