Location: Baltimore, Maryland, United States

Studied in Govt. College, Lahore, Punjab University,Peshawar University & Zagreb University(Croatia). Started writing when in 7th class. Wrote prose & poetry,Have published writings in almost every Pakistani Urdu & English magazine and newspaper,held important positions in many literary and professional organizations. worked as a teacher, research scientist and industrial management professional, In the words of Arthur Miller I have always felt as being temporary. That is why there was no significant achievement.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Ace story writer Saadat Hasan Manto arrived in Pakistan sometimes in the beginning of February 1948 that is only six months after the partition of the sub-continent. They say that he was well-established in the Bombay’s film industry as a story and dialogue writer.He had personal friendships with most of the actors and producers of that period which can also be found in his collection of sketches written under the title Ganje Farishte (The featherless angels). Bombay was and perhaps continues to be the city generally considered as melting pot of different ethnic and religious groups. There were so many Muslims there who belonged to the areas that later on became part of Pakistan and they chose to remain there even after the partition. So what compelled Manto to leave India and settle in Pakistan? In his sketch of actor Shayam written under the title Murli Ki Dhun Manto has shed light on his mental condition at the time of partition and his decision to migrate to Pakistan.
He writes,”Those days when there was a bloody tussle going on between Hindus and Muslims on the partition of India and thousands of people of both the factions were being killed every day Shayam and I were sitting with a Sikh family that had migrated from Rawalpindi . The members of the family were narrating the tales of their woes which were very depressing. Shayam couldn’t remain unaffected by them. I could easily understand the disturbance that was shaking his mind .When we left that place I asked Shayam,’I am a Muslim. Don’t you feel like killing me?’.Shayam replied very seriously,’Not now….but when he was telling me the atrocities committed by Muslims on them I could have killed you.’ Hearing this from Shayam gave a big blow to my heart. May be at that time even I could have killed him. But afterwards when I thought over it and found that there was an enormous difference between the thinking of that period and now and then I could understand psychological background of all these riots resulting in the killing of thousands of innocent Hindus and Muslims.’Not now….at that time yes…why?’.If one closely follows he can find the true answer to the nature of human beings behind this problem.”
Manto then goes on to narrate the immediate reasons behind his decision to migrate. He writes,” The communal hatred was increasing day by day in Bombay. When Ashok Kumar and Wacha got the control of Bombay Talkies the important positions all went to Muslims. This resulted in a wave of hatred among the Hindu staff of the Bombay Talkies.Wacha received anonymous letters in which he was threatened with burning down the studio or killing important people. Wacha and Ashok did not give much imporatnce to these letters but being a sensitive person and a Muslim I was giving due importance to the situation and many times I mentioned my concern to Ashok and Wacha advising them to relieve me from Bombay Talkies. Actually Hindus were thinking that whatever was happening in Bombay Talkies was due to me.. But they (Ashok and Wacha) would say ‘Are you insane?’ I was really insane perhaps. My wife and children were in Pakistan when it was a part of India . From time to time some Hindu-Muslim riots would take place in that area but I understood it. But what this new name had made of that piece of land was beyond my comprehension.What is self rule? I had no concept of it……I couldn’t understand which was my country Hindustan or Pakistan and whose blood was spilling so callously every day? Where would they bury or burn those bones whose flesh had been devoured by vultures. Now that we had become independent who would be our slaves? And there was the question whether we had actually got independence or not?.There were answers to these question but those were Indian Answers, Pakistani Answers and British Answers….Hindustan had become free. Pakistan had become independent soon after its inception but man was still slave in both these countries—slave of prejudice…slave of religious fanaticism…slave of barbarity and inhumanity.”
Manto writes about the final moments of his departure in these words,” Shayam would look at me and smile although he knew my state of mind. I was very upset as to why Shayam did not think like me…but perhaps he had reached the conclusion that it was futile to ponder over what was going on in our envirionment.I thought a lot but could not come to any conclusion. At last getting fed up I said,’Okay let me go from here..’Shayam had night shooting. I started packing my baggage. The whole night I did it.In the morning Shayam came back from shooting. He saw my packed baggage and only asked me,’Are you going?’I also said only,Yes..’And after that we did not say a word about ‘migration’ (hijrat). He helped me in collecting the rest of the baggage and kept telling me stories of his previous night shooting and laughed. When it was the time of my departure he took out a bottle of brandy from the closet and made two pegs and handing me one said,’Hiptulla !’. I also said in return ‘Hiptulla” and with a big laughter he dragged me to his broad chest saying,’ you swine..’.I tried to stop my tears and he raised a sincere slogan,’Pakistan Zindabad’..’Zindabad Bharat..’ I said and went downstairs where truck was waiting for me. ” Manto came to Pakistan by a steamer and after disembarking in Karachi travelled to Lahore by train. Manto’s narrative in this sketch shows that there could be two main reasons for his migration to Pakistan. Firstly he missed his family who were already in Lahore and secondly he was not sure about his future because of the communal hatred that had reached Bombay as well. Manto mentions of a letter that Shayam wrote to him from Bombay that says,” Every one remembers you here. They miss your humorous anecdotes.Wacha thinks that you have dodged him because you left for Pakistan without informing him. It is ironic that one who was foremost in opposing the entry of Muslims in Bombay Talkies was the first one to escape to Pakistan making himself the martyr of his own ideology. This is Wacha’s point of view.”
Manto’s contemporary writer Upinder Nath Ashk on the other hand had a different story to tell about Manto’s decision of migrating to Pakistan. During early 1940s Ahmad Shah Bukhari (Patras Bukhari) had engaged a number of important writers in All India Radio where he was the director general. Among those writers were Krishan Chandar, Manto, Ghulam Abbas, Upinder Nath Ashk, Noon Meem Rashed, Mahmood Nizami, Meera ji and others. So there was a spirit of competition among these writers. In an article entitled Manto—Mera Dost Mera Dushman(Manto—My Friend, My Foe)Upinder Nath Ashk wrote about his antipathy and a strange type of friendship with Manto. He wrote, “ Manto had written about Bari Sahib( Bari Alig) that he was very sensitive person . But as I saw Manto he seemed to be influenced by Bari Sahib although he did not know this aspect of his character. The circumstances in which Manto disappeared from Delhi one day were almost similar to those in which he ran away from Bombay to Pakistan. In Delhi I was responsible for his flight but in Bombay it was Nazir Ajmeri. But in reality Manto was also himself responsible for this flight. In fight as long as he was on the giving end he was happy but when others would start using his tactics he used to run away. Talking about Nazit Ajmeri’s opposition that caused his flight from Bombay Manto once wrote,’ I thought a lot but could not understand anything. Then I told myself,’ Manto Bhai…you won’t find any way if you go straight so stop the car…go through the side street and from the side street I came to Pakistan.”” Ashk had thought that Manto could not compete with him in Delhi so he escaped to Bombay. In his article Ashk also mentions of strained relations between Manto and Rashed as he was also in his words “an authoritarian type..” Though Manto’s superiority over his contemporaries was unchallenged yet his problem was that he could not tolerate any criticism or would not allow any one to change any word or sentence in his writings which generally caused heart burning among them. But the question is if Manto left Delhi because of Ashk then why did he call him to Bombay to take up a job in Bombay Talkies? Ashk says that Manto did it to show his superiority over him. But it was common with Manto to help his friends to get jobs in Bombay’s film industry. He invited Ahmad Nadim Qasmi as well who went there but did not like the environment and came back. Ashk writes,” Although Ashok and Wacha were Manto’s friends and Manto joined Bombay Talkies with them but Manto couldn’t give any story there.Once when I asked Ashok as to why Manto left he said that he had written a story but we decided to take Kamal Amrohi’s ‘Mahal’. Manto did not say a word before leaving although we had said that after this we would make his story but he did not listen to us.’….Actually he got involved in such people there whom he had forced earlier to leave Filmistan. Yes, Ashok and Wacha did receive some letters because of placing Muslims in important positions but it was not easy to burn the studio and become jobless.Neither Shahid Latif, nor Nazir Ajmeri got scared due to these letters. The main reason of Manto’s disappointment was firstly the selection of the story of Nazir Ajmeri and secondly that of Kamal Amrohi. The day Manto found out about Kamal Amrohi’s story he decided to leave Bombay….Manto ran away from the arena due to his great egocentricity and perhaps that was the reason of his greatness.” (End)


Blogger raj said...


its a nice wording's about MANTO. Manto is a living legend. i'm doing P.hd on technice of manto's stories.
09815788143 from punjab .

9:15 AM  
Anonymous Joy said...

Very nice and informative. Thanks for sharing with us

9:42 PM  
Blogger Rajesh Kochhar said...

Dear Dr Mirza
I have enjoyed reading your informative blogs. Do you know anything about Kamal Amrohi's stay/ education in Lahore. There are different versions on dates and attainments. Did he join Oriental College? When? Did he get a degree? When did he leave for Bombay. etc.
Your help will be greatly appreciated.

2:44 AM  

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