Incarnations: India in 50 Lives

Manto: The Unsentimentalist

from Incarnations: India in 50 Lives | Published 3/11/2016

Sunil Khilnani explores the life and work of India's master of the short story, Saadat Hasan Manto. Manto didn't fuss much over his sentences. He wrote in a rush, at hack speed, for money - and often legless drunk. His raw, visceral, personal response to his experiences - including the massacre at Amritsar, cosmopolitan Bombay and the horror of Partition - matched a historical moment that needed a raw, human response. In a divided country that Manto thought possessed 'too few leaders, and two many stuntmen', his sentences asserted, plainly, the human facts - not the moral or political motives that produced them. As Professor Khilnani says, 'for all the velocity that his economy of language creates, the pressure of a story builds slowly. You're never quite prepared for the moment that blasts off the emotional roof. His sentences etch a groove in the mind not because he saturates his truths about atrocity in lurid color, but because he delivers them off-hand, even elliptically.' Readings by Sagar Arya. Producer: Martin Williams.

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The history of India told through the lives of 50 phenomenal people.