Ismat’s Love Stories (2016)
Two plays were developed from the basic efforts put in Crooked Kala(a)m, an interesting directorial endeavour. Scripted by Anuradha Marwah, Ismat’s Love Stories had two objectives: first to recast Ismat Chughtai as an instinctively feminist writer whose work is still relevant today. The second is to explore her relationship with Saadat Hasan Manto, who enjoyed shocking people with his outrageous observations and explicit writings. In the early forties there were rumours of a romantic liaison between these two major writers. In 1948 Manto migrated to Pakistan – a move denounced publicly by the patriotic Ismat. Subsequently there was a breakdown of communication between them. Manto was attacked and reviled by Islamic clerics and ignored by the literary establishment in Pakistan, while Ismat, partnered by her producer husband, Shahid Lateef, wrote successful film scripts and scenarios for Bollywood. But Manto’s tragic death in 1955 drove a heart-broken Ismat to ally herself strongly and publicly with her iconoclastic friend. Her essay on him ‘My Friend, My Enemy’ is a moving tribute to his genius and to the vocation of writing.