Did You Know –
Manto’s favorite nineteenth century poet was Mirza Ghalib; about whom Manto had once said that after Ghalib the right to compose poetry stood forfeited.
Largely known for his heart wrenching short stories on Partition and his portraits of personalities from the Bombay film world, Manto also has some radio plays and film scripts to his name. Of the movies Manto wrote in his time in Mumbai, a handful retain their place in public memory, with Mirza Ghalib, written in 1948 but filmed after he had left for Pakistan, perhaps the most famous.
He is credited with the Original Story for this Sohrab Modi directed 1954 release starring Bharat Bhushan, as Ghalib and Suraiya, as his courtesan lover. The film, based on the life of the great Urdu poet who lived during the reign of Bahadur Shah Zafar, beautifully captures the mood of the period and the magnificence of the court of the last Mughal where poets like Zaug, Momin and Ghalib assembled to recite their verse. The film won two National Awards – for Best Film (Sohrab Modi) and Best Music Direction (Ghulam Mohammed).
It would have pleased Manto immensely, had he lived long enough, to learn that Mumbai’s Clare Road (in Byculla), where Manto had lived for a brief period, during his memorable days in Bombay, has now officially been renamed Mirza Ghalib Marg.
Urduwallahs celebrate One Hundred Years of Saadat Hasan Manto!