Toba Tek Singh
Director: Ketan Mehta
Cast: Pankaj Kapur, Vinay Pathak
The story takes place in one of the older asylums in undivided India. It housed patients from Hindu, Muslim and Sikh religions who were left behind by their families.
This abandonment brought them all close and forged friendships.
In this asylum, is set the story of Bhishan Singh, who for the last ten years has stayed awake and his journey from Sanity to Madness.
The story spins around what happens when he has to leave his home and how it affects his mind, manner and the choices he makes.
For literature and cinema lovers like me, the release of Toba Tek Singh movie as part of the ZEE5 Film Festival is a treat. It is based on a short story by Saadat Hasan Manto.
A 1955 satirical work on the relationship between India and Pakistan, it follows the story of a few asylum inmates who are to be transferred from Lahore to India following the Independence of Pakistan.
A hard-hitting and thought-provoking work, written and directed by Ketan Mehta, is brought to life by the very talented actors Pankaj Kapoor and Vinay Pathak. Just the trailer gave me the chills!
Saadat Hasan Manto was a Pakistani writer, playwright, and author who produced 22 collections of short stories, a novel, radio plays, and many more works – You can read more about him here.
Manto is particularly known for his stories about the Partition of India and the socio-political bend to his writings. He was a writer who didn’t sugar-coat the truth, nor glorify it, and thus, was also subjected to much ridicule to which he aptly responded: “If you find my stories dirty, the society you are living in is dirty. With my stories, I only expose the truth”.
In Toba Tek Singh, Saadat Hasan Manto dives into the chaos and turmoil which existed during the time of the partition (of India) and he showcases it in the setting of an asylum – far from a regular story setting, but hard-hitting and poignant in its portrayal of the darkness of the human psyche – An insightful study into people and human behaviour.
For someone, who was born after the partition, such stories are our only opportunity to really understand what happened and get an insight into life as it was in those times.
Personally, this quote by Manto is so powerful, and in many ways, still true!
“Hindustan had become free. Pakistan had become independent soon after its inception but man was still a slave in both these countries – slave of prejudice .. slave of religious fanaticism .. .slave of barbarity and inhumanity”.
In short, I am absolutely fascinated by the very rationality in the people we consider ‘technically’ irrational! Do watch the movie on ZEE5 and tell me what did you think? What is your feeling? Did you too walk away amazed and heartbroken like I was?