Zindagi Tamasha and the Manto of our times


I have seen the trailer of Zindagi Tamasha a number of times to grasp the idea of a film which seems poised right at the brink of becoming controversial. After playing Manto in his directorial debut as a filmmaker, Sarmad Khoosat, it seems has resurrected the spirit of Manto in himself.

Saadat Hasan Manto did not see the world from his individual point of view. He used his pen to transcribe what he saw around him without prejudice or scruple. This makes Manto one of the most difficult writers to read because none of us want to come to terms with sheer truth which is always bitter and unbearable.

Zindagi Tamasha is coming to theaters in January 2020.

There are two school of thoughts. One that thinks that highlighting and encouraging the good in society, however scarce, will make it better. And the other who believes that the only way to goodness goes through the realization of what is bad, corrupt and evil. The first idea is utopian and the second is realistic yet harsh and uncomfortable. Manto belonged to the second school of thought who could look right in the face of debilitating social and moral fabric of society and so is Sarmad Khoosat.

The subject matter of Zindgi Tamasha reminds us of Manto in many ways. The realistic portrayal of characters weaves a story which is very much grounded in our cultural dichotomies. The trailer gives as much about the story as it does about the theme. It is hard to decipher or even imagine how the story will unfold tackling the most sensitive theme there is.

The film has all the potential to win accolades from around the world. If it is not too early to say, the movie could be the pick of the year to be submitted to the Academy Awards next year. Laal Kabootar has been chosen for this year’s entry to the Oscars. Pakistan film industry has started producing films that we can proudly present at any international festival or competition.

Produced by Kanwal Khoosat, Zindagi Tamasha does not have a star studded cast. The protagonist Rahat is played by Arif Hasan supported by Ali Qureshi, Eman Suleman, Imran Khoosat and Samiya Mumtaz among others. Before the official release in Pakistan in January 2020, Zindagi Tamasha will be screened at the Busan Film Festival.

When Sarmad was addressing the press conference at the trailer launch of Zindagi Tamasha his words sounded exactly like Manto’s, he said “The topic of the film is sensitive but I have spoken the truth and one doesn’t fear when speaking the truth”.