Actor Rasika Dugal, who is playing the wife of legendary short story writer Saadat Hasan Manto in the upcoming biopic, says portraying a little-known character on-screen evokes different interpretations in minds of people. Rasika, an avid reader of Manto’s work, said she was relying on the extensive research done by director Nandita Das to play Manto’s wife Safia, as not much information is available about her in the public domain.
“I had read an article written by Nandita on Safia Manto just before she announced the project. It is easier to play a role where not much is known about the character, as people come with pre-conceived ideas. They have an image of that person and they have certain expectations of what you would give them.
“They could either be thrilled by what you offer and the flip side is they could be disappointed,” Rasika told PTI. According to the actor, the pressure is more on her co-star Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who is playing the titular character in “Manto”, as a lot of people know about the legendary author. “…There are people who are die-hard fans of Manto. I am sure people will be more than happy with what they will see on-screen. If there is absolute no information about a person then that can be a problem and a challenge.
“Nandita has spent a lot of time with Manto’s family and did an extensive research. The script is very rich with great anecdotes and that was a solid base to begin with,” she said. “Manto” is the only Indian production which has made it to the Un Certain Regard section at the 71st Cannes Film Festival. “Being placed at the Cannes attracts eyeballs even in our country. It only works in the favour of the film. I am not in the business side of films, so I don’t look at films like products, whether they will do well or not .
“I think they are a piece of work that I am proud and encouraged me as an actor. I don’t think about the business side of it, it is not in my hands,” she said. The 33-year-old actor said there is always a “mixed feeling” when a film is being presented to the world. She is, however, confident that “Manto” will connect with the audiences. “It is a beautiful piece of work. I am happy that it is placed at such a good festival and it is going in a category called Un Certain, which is a very prestigious category. It is lovely to watch a film in a dark theatre with the audience, you can feel their pulse,” she said.
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