Manto and the Human Dimension of 1947


Saadat Hasan Manto was an established Urdu short story writer and a rising screenwriter in Bombay at the time of India's partition in 1947, and he is perhaps best known for the short stories he wrote following his migration to Lahore in newly formed Pakistan. Today Manto is an acknowledged master of 20th century Urdu literature, and his fiction serves as a lens through which the tragedy of partition is brought sharply into focus. Join acclaimed author and academic, Ayesha Jalal, who also happens to be Manto's grand-neice, in a discussion with director Shyam Benegal and poet Jerry Pinto on the life and work of Manto. At the earliest stages of partition Manto prophesized, to a great extent, the current state of affairs between India and Pakistan. What can we learn from Manto, who lived harmoniously in unified, pre-partitioned India but could never over come the torment and anguish which religious delineation imposed? How would Manto, through his bold, poetic prose guide us as we strive to improve relations on the subcontinent today?

Ayesha Jalal is a Mary Richardson Professor of History at Tufts University. In the past, she has also taught at Harvard University, Columbia University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison and been named a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge amongst others. Her publications largely focus around Muslim identities in South Asia but also touch upon history and political economy of the region. She has collaborated with Dr Sugata Bose to co-author Modern South Asia: History, Culture and Political Economy

Shyam Benegal is a film director and screenwriter. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1976 and the Padma Bhushan in 1991 from the Government of India. He has also been awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, India's highest award in cinema given annually by the Government of India for his lifetime contribution to Indian cinema. He has won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi seven times. 

Jerry Pinto is a poet and journalist. He wrote the introduction to Manto’s translated book, Stars from Another Sky: The Bombay Film World in the 1940s, and co-authored the book Bombay, Meri Jaan: Writings on Mumbai with Naresh Fernandes, which includes an exploration of Manto’s engagement with Mumbai. He won the 2012 Hindu Literary Prize and the 2007 National Film Award for Best Book on Cinema. His other published works include Em and the Big Hoom and Asylum and Other Poems

About The Pity of Partition: Manto’s Life, Times, and Work across the India-Pakistan Divide by Professor Ayesha Jalal
In The Pity of Partition, Manto's life and work serve as a prism to capture the human dimension of sectarian conflict in the final decades and immediate aftermath of the British raj. Dr. Jalal draws on Manto's stories, sketches and essays, as well as a trove of his private letters, to present an intimate history of partition and its devastating toll. Probing the creative tension between literature and history, she charts a new way of reconnecting the histories of individuals, families, and communities in the throes of cataclysmic change. She brings to life the people, locales and events that inspired Manto's fiction, which is characterized by an eye for detail, a measure of wit and irreverence, and elements of suspense and surprise. In turn, she mines these writings for fresh insights into everyday cosmopolitanism in Bombay and Lahore, the experience and causes of partition, the postcolonial transition, and the advent of the Cold War in South Asia. The first in-depth look in English at this influential literary figure, The Pity of Partition demonstrates the revelatory power of art in times of great historical rupture.

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Featured Global Content: Podcast - Ayesha Jalal's What Would Manto Say?

This programme is part of our South Asia in Focus series of events this July. Our other programmes include a behind-the-scenes discussion on Nepalese Thangka paintings with conservationist Anupam Sah, a discussion with former Ambassador Rajendra Abhyankar on his experiences and insights into Indian Diplomacy, and a conversation with NYU Professor Arjun Appadurai on Globalisation and the Politics of Hope, with CEO of Ajit Balakrishnan, Ipsos Country Manager Mick Gordon, Founder of SPARC Sheela Patel, and Founder of Citizens for Justice and Peace Teesta Setalvad. 

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Event Details

Thu 18 Jul 2013
6 - 8 p.m.
Visitors’ Centre, Auditorium, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS Museum), 159/161 MG Road, Fort, Mumbai – 400 023 Asia Society Members and JSW invitees: FREE, All others: Rs 100. Free for full-time students and press with valid ID.
Add to Calendar 20130718T123000 20130718T143000 UTC Asia Society: Manto and the Human Dimension of 1947 Visitors’ Centre, Auditorium, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS Museum), 159/161 MG Road, Fort, Mumbai – 400 023 Asia Society Members and JSW invitees: FREE, All others: Rs 100. Free for full-time students and press with valid ID.
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