Open main menu

Wikipedia β

Saadat Hasan Manto (/mɑːn, -tɒ/; Urdu: سعادت حسن منٹو‎, pronounced [sa'ādat 'hasan 'maṅṭō]; 11 May 1912 – 18 January 1955) was a writer, playwright and author born in British India. He produced 22 collections of short stories, a novel, five series of radio plays, three collections of essays, two collections of personal sketches. His best short stories are held in high esteem by writers and critics.[1] Manto was known to write about the atrocious truths that no one dared to talk about. Manto is best known for his stories about the partition of the subcontinent immediately following independence in 1947.[2]

Saadat Hasan Manto
Saadat Hasan Manto photograph.jpg
Native name سعادت حسن منٹو
Born Saadat Hasan Manto
(1912-05-11)11 May 1912
Samrala, Ludhiana, Punjab, British India

18 January 1955(1955-01-18) (aged 42)
Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan

Cause of death Multiple organ failure due to alcohol consumption
Occupation Novelist, playwright, essayist, screenwriter, short story writer
Nationality Pakistani
Period 1934–1955
Genre Drama, nonfiction, satire, screenplays, personal correspondence
Notable works Toba Tek Singh; Thanda Gosht; Bu; Khol Do; Kaali Shalwar; Hattak
Notable awards Nishan-e-Imtiaz Award (Order of Excellence) in 2012 (posthumous)
Relatives Ayesha Jalal

Manto was tried for obscenity six times; thrice before 1947 in British India, and thrice after independence in 1947 in Pakistan, but never convicted.[3]



Manto chronicled the chaos that prevailed, during and after the Partition of India in 1947.[4][5] He started his literary career translating the works of Victor Hugo, Oscar Wilde and Russian writers such as Chekhov and Gorky. His first story was "Tamasha", based on the Jallianwala Bagh massacre at Amritsar.[6] Though his earlier works, influenced by the progressive writers of his times, showed a marked leftist and socialist leanings, his later work progressively became stark in portraying the darkness of the human psyche, as humanist values progressively declined around the Partition.[5][7] His final works, which grew from the social climate and his own financial struggles, reflected an innate sense of human impotency towards darkness and contained a satirism that verged on dark comedy, as seen in his final work, Toba Tek Singh.[8] It not only showed the influence of his own demons, but also that of the collective madness that he saw in the ensuing decade of his life. To add to it, his numerous court cases and societal rebukes deepened his cynical view of society, from which he felt isolated.[9] No part of human existence remained untouched or taboo for him, he sincerely brought out stories of prostitutes and pimps alike, just as he highlighted the subversive sexual slavery of the women of his times.[10] To many contemporary women writers, his language portrayed reality and provided them with the dignity they long deserved.[11] He is still known for his scathing insight into human behaviour as well as revelation of the macabre animalistic nature of an enraged people, that stands out amidst the brevity of his prose.[4]

At least one commentator compares Saadat Hasan Manto to D. H. Lawrence, partly because he wrote about taboos of Indo-Pakistani Society.[12] His concerns on the socio-political issues, from local to global are revealed in his series, Letters to Uncle Sam, and those to Pandit Nehru.[4] On his writing he often commented, "If you find my stories dirty, the society you are living in is dirty. With my stories, I only expose the truth".[13]


Early lifeEdit

Saadat Hassan Manto was born in Paproudi village of Samrala, in the Ludhiana district of the Punjab in a Muslim family of barristers on 11 May 1912.[14][15] His father was a judge of a local court. He was ethnically a Kashmiri and proud of his Kashmiri roots. In a letter to Pandit Nehru he suggested that being 'beautiful' was the second meaning of being 'Kashmiri'.[16][17]

The big turning point in his life came in 1933, at age 21, when he met Abdul Bari Alig, a scholar and polemic writer, in Amritsar. Abdul Bari Alig encouraged him to find his true talents and read Russian and French authors.[18]

Early careerEdit

Within a matter of months Manto produced an Urdu translation of Victor Hugo's The Last Day of a Condemned Man, which was published by Urdu Book Stall, Lahore as Sarguzasht-e-Aseer (A Prisoner's Story).[19] Soon afterwards he joined the editorial staff of Masawat, a daily published from Ludhiana[20]

This heightened enthusiasm pushed Manto to pursue graduation at Aligarh Muslim University, which he joined in February 1934, and soon got associated with Indian Progressive Writers' Association (IPWA). It was here that he met writer Ali Sardar Jafri and found a new spurt in his writing. His second story, "Inqlaab Pasand", was published in Aligarh magazine in March 1935.[6]

Saadat Hasan Manto had accepted the job of writing for Urdu Service of All India Radio in 1941. This proved to be his most productive period as in the next eighteen months he published over four collections of radio plays, Aao (Come), Manto ke Drame (Manto's Dramas), Janaze (Funerals) and Teen Auraten (Three women). He continued to write short stories and his next short story collection Dhuan (Smoke) was soon out followed by Manto ke Afsane and his first collection of topical essays, Manto ke Mazamin. This period culminated with the publication of his mixed collection Afsane aur Dramey in 1943. Meanwhile, due to a quarrel with the director of the All India Radio, poet N. M. Rashid, he left his job and returned to Bombay in July 1942 and again started working with film industry. He entered his best phase in screenwriting giving films like Aatth Din, Shikari,[21] Chal Chal Re Naujawan and Mirza Ghalib, which was finally released in 1954.[22] Some of his short stories also came from this phase including Kaali Shalwar (1941), Dhuan (1941) and Bu (1945), which was published in Qaumi Jang (Bombay) in February 1945. Another highlight of his second phase in Bombay was the publication of a collection of his stories, Chugad, which also included the story 'Babu Gopinath'.[6] He stayed in Bombay until he moved to Pakistan in January 1948 after the partition of India in 1947.[citation needed]

Migration to PakistanEdit

Manto and his family were among the millions of Muslims who left present-day India for the Muslim-majority nation of Pakistan .[23]

Life in LahoreEdit

When Manto arrived in Lahore from Bombay, he lived near and associated with several prominent intellectuals including Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Nasir Kazmi, Ahmad Rahi and Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi.[citation needed] They all used to gather at Lahore's iconic Pak Tea House, witness to some of the most fiery literary debates and passionate political arguments back in 1948–49. Pak Tea House holds a special place in the memories of those who know about Lahore's vibrant literary and cultural past. "There was absolutely no external influence and people would share their opinions on any subject without fear even during the military dictators' regimes."[24]


On 18 January 2005, the fiftieth anniversary of his death, Manto was commemorated on a Pakistani postage stamp.[25]

On 14 August 2012 which is Pakistan's Independence Day, Saadat Hasan Manto was posthumously awarded the Nishan-e-Imtiaz award (Distinguished Service to Pakistan Award) by the Government of Pakistan.[26]

Manto was a writer whose life story became a subject of intense discussion and introspection.[27] During the last two decades many stage productions were done to present his character in conflict with the harsh socio-economic realities of post partition era. Danish Iqbal's stage Play Ek Kutte Ki Kahani presented Manto in a new perspective on occasion of his birth centenary. In 2015, film director Sarmad Sultan Khoosat made and released a movie, Manto, about his life.[28]

Charge for obscenityEdit

Manto faced trial for obscenity in his writings in both India and Pakistan,including three times in India before 1947 (‘Dhuan,’ ‘Bu,’ and ‘Kali Shalwar’) and three times in Pakistan after 1947 (‘KholDo,’ ‘Thanda Gosht,’ and ‘Upar Neeche Darmiyaan’) under section 292 of the Indian Penal Code and the Pakistan Penal Code in Pakistan’s early years. He was fined only in one case. Regarding the charges of obscenity he opined "I am not a pornographer but a story writer,"[29]


  • Atish Paray (Nuggets of Fire) – 1936
  • Chugad
  • Manto Ke Afsanay (Stories of Manto) – 1940
  • Dhuan (Smoke) – 1941
  • Afsane Aur Dramay (Fiction and Drama) – 1943
  • Lazzat-e-Sang-1948 (The Taste of Rock)
  • Siyah Hashiye-1948 (Black Borders)
  • Badshahat Ka Khatimah (The End of Kingship) – 1950
  • Khali Botlein (Empty Bottles) – 1950
  • Loud Speaker (Sketches)
  • Ganjey Farishtey (Sketches)
  • Manto ke Mazameen
  • Nimrud Ki Khudai (Nimrod The God) – 1950
  • Thanda Gosht (Cold Meat) – 1950
  • Yazid – 1951
  • Pardey Ke Peechhey (Behind The Curtains) – 1953
  • Sarak Ke Kinarey (By the Roadside) – 1953
  • Baghair Unwan Ke (Without a Title) – 1954
  • Baghair Ijazit (Without Permission) – 1955
  • Tobha Tek Singh( "powerful satire") – 1955
  • Burquey – 1955
  • Phunduney (Tassles) – 1955
  • Sarkandon Ke Peechhey (Behind The Reeds) – 1955
  • Shaiytan (Satan) – 1955
  • Shikari Auratein (Women of Prey) – 1955
  • Ratti, Masha, Tolah-1956
  • Kaali Shalwar (Black Pants) – 1961
  • Manto Ki Behtareen Kahanian (Best Stories of Manto) – 1963 [1]
  • Tahira Se Tahir (From Tahira to Tahir) – 1971

Further readingEdit

  • Manto Naama, by Jagdish Chander Wadhawan.1998, Roli Books.
  • Manto Naama: The Life of Saadat Hasan Manto, English translation of the above by Jai Ratan, 1998, Roli Books.
  • Life and Works of Saadat Hasan Manto, by Alok Bhalla. 1997, Indian Institute of Advanced Study. ISBN 81-85952-48-5.
  • The Life and Works of Saadat Hasan Manto. Introduction by Leslie Flemming; trans. by Tahira Naqvi. Lahore, Pakistan: Vanguard Books Ltd., 1985.
  • Another Lonely Voice: The Urdu Short Stories of Saadat Hasan Manto, by Leslie A. Flemming, Berkeley: Centre for South and South east Asian Studies. University of California. 1979. [2]
  • Madness and Partition: The Short Stories of Saadat Hasan Manto, Stephen Alter, Journal of Comparative Poetics, No. 14, Madness and Civilization/ al-Junun wa al-Hadarah (1994), pp. 91–100. [3]
  • Bitter Fruit: The Very Best of Saadat Hassan Manto, edited and tr. by Khalid Hassan, Penguin, 2008.
  • Naked Voices: Stories and Sketches by Manto, Ed. and tr. by Rakhshanda Jalil. Indian Ink & Roli Books, 2008.
  • Stars from Another Sky: The Bombay Film World of the 1940s, tr. by Khalid Hasan. Penguin India, 2000.
  • Manto: Selected Stories, tr. by Aatish Taseer. Vintage/Random House India, 2008. ISBN 81-84001-44-4.
  • The Pity of Partition: Manto’s Life, Times, and Work across the India-Pakistan Divide. Ayesha Jalal.
  • Pinglay-Plumber, Prachi (12 January 2015). "Manto Bridge : to Manto, Bombay was about its people". Outlook. 55 (1): 72–73. Retrieved 2016-01-06. 

Manto's works onlineEdit


  1. ^, Saadat Hasan Manto on Penguin Books India, Retrieved 18 March 2016
  2. ^, New York Times article titled 'Pearls of Regret '.
  3. ^, Article on Saadat Hasan Manto on Dawn, Karachi newspaper, Retrieved 18 March 2016
  4. ^ a b c d, Biography of Saadat Hasan Manto on Kashmir Sentinel, Feb 2003 issue, Retrieved 18 March 2016
  5. ^ a b, Profile of Saadat Hasan Manto on website, Retrieved 18 March 2016
  6. ^ a b c Early Years, Biography of Saadat Hasan Manto by Sharad Dutt, BBC website, Retrieved 18 March 2016
  7. ^ Digital South Asia Library Mahfil. v 1, V. 1 ( 1963) p. 12., Saadat Hasan Manto 'Biography', Retrieved 18 March 2016
  8. ^, Saadat Hasan Manto on India Tribune newspaper, Retrieved 18 March 2016
  9. ^, Saadat Hasan Manto centenary article on Pak Tea website, Published 12 Dec 2012, Retrieved 18 March 2016
  10. ^, Saadat Hasan Manto on Google website, Retrieved 18 March 2016
  11. ^ He presented women as humans Nasira Sharma, BBC Hindi, Published 10 May 2005, 18 March 2016
  12. ^ Rajendra Yadav quote BBC website, Retrieved 18 March 2016
  13. ^ Manto on his writing BBC website, Retrieved 18 March 2016
  14. ^ Leslie A. Flemming, Another Lonely Voice: The Urdu Short Stories of Saadat Hasan Manto, Center for South and Southeast Asia Studies, University of California (1979), p. 2
  15. ^ Abida Samiuddin, Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Urdu Literature, Global Vision Publishing House (2007), p. 391
  16. ^ Reeck, Matt; Ahmad, Aftab (2012). Bombay Stories. Random House India. ISBN 9788184003611. He claimed allegiance not only to his native Punjab but also to his ancestors' home in Kashmir. While raised speaking Punjabi, he was also proud of the remnants of Kashmiri culture that his family maintained-food customs, as well as intermarriage with families of Kashmiri origin-and throughout his life he assigned special importance to others who had Kashmiri roots. In a tongue-in-cheek letter addressed to Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, he went so far as to suggest that being beautiful was the second meaning of being Kashmiri 
  17. ^ Pandita, Rahul (2013). Our Moon Has Blood Clots: The Exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits. Random House India. ISBN 9788184003901. By virtue of his disposition, temperament, features and his spirit, Manto remains a Kashmiri Pandit. 
  18. ^ Pakistan Post, 2005, Retrieved 12 August 2015
  19. ^, Saadat Hasan Manto article on website, Retrieved 18 March 2016
  20. ^ Author Profile, Profile of Saadat Hasan Manto, Retrieved 18 March 2016
  21. ^ "Shikari". Retrore. Retrieved 21 May 2017. 
  22. ^, Collection of Saadat Hasan Manto Books on India Club website, Retrieved 18 March 2016
  23. ^ Manto, Saadat Hasan. Ganjay Farishtay. p. 190. , Retrieved 4 September 2015
  24. ^, Pak Tea House,19 March 2015, Herald-Dawn newspaper article, Retrieved 6 September 2015
  25. ^ Bio details, Saadat Hassan Manto (1912–1955) Men of Letters, PakPost, Retrieved 12 August 2015
  26. ^, Retrieved 12 August 2015
  27. ^, Tributes paid to Manto, Dawn newspaper, Karachi, published 11 May 2012, Retrieved 19 Jan 2016
  28. ^, 'How Manto, the movie, came about', Dawn, Karachi newspaper- published 8 Sep 2015, Retrieved 19 Jan 2016
  29. ^ Tariq Bashir (20 March 2015). "Sentence First – Verdict Afterwards". The Friday Times. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  30. ^

External linksEdit