America in the eyes of Manto

Published September 7, 2012

ISLAMABAD, Sept 7: Theatre goers Thursday night came out singing Manto when performers brought the short story writer in the Urdu language back to life.

Five performers took turns and entertained the audience sitting in chairs and resting on cushions on the floor around them as they read letters to Uncle Sam in dramatised form.

Tajdar Zaidi, Tughral Turab Ali, Salman Zaheer and Safeerullah Khan imitated, walked and talked like the writer, and sat around the small space to face the audience at different angles to ‘expose the truth in the dirty society’. Eik Shaam Uncle Sam Kay Naam at the Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) auditorium consisted of a reading from the eight rhetorical letters that the writer addressed to Uncle Sam (the United States of America) between 1951 and 1954.

The dramatised readings were delivered by the Theatre Wallay and were hosted by the Alliance Francaise Islamabad.

The tone of the letters varied from matter of fact to humorous to seriousness to pathos, as Saadat Hasan Manto described his poverty and compared it to the wealth of America.

The stage actors read the letters out loud as they presented his views on the geo-political situation of his day, on the quirks of his new country and on the glamour of American life as seen in films and magazines.

In most of these letters, witty and sharp, Saadat Hasan Manto explained that he was unable to send them because he was short of money for postage stamps or would rather spend the money on drinking.

But the letters were opportunities for Manto to comment on the strangeness of his new country, as well as on the surreal aspects of American life.

Opinion

Editorial

Not without reform
Updated 22 Apr, 2024

Not without reform

The problem with us is that our ruling elite is still trying to find a way around the tough reforms that will hit their privileges.
Raisi’s visit
22 Apr, 2024

Raisi’s visit

IRANIAN President Ebrahim Raisi, who begins his three-day trip to Pakistan today, will be visiting the country ...
Janus-faced
22 Apr, 2024

Janus-faced

THE US has done it again. While officially insisting it is committed to a peaceful resolution to the...
Elections in India
Updated 21 Apr, 2024

Elections in India

Independent accounts and spot reports are at variance with Modi-friendly TV anchors and they do not see an easy victory for the Indian premier.
IHC letter
21 Apr, 2024

IHC letter

THIS is a historic opportunity for the judiciary to define its institutional boundaries. It must not be squandered....
Olympic preparations
21 Apr, 2024

Olympic preparations

THIS past week marked the beginning of the 100-day countdown to the Paris Olympics, with the symbolic torch-lighting...