titled “Mantoo Katha” authored by Dr. Brij Premi is another factual and
well documented book on Sadat Hassan Mantoo. Backed up with minutest details,
the author reveals in a lucid manner certain unexplored and lesser known facets
of Mantoo’s life and works, hitherto unknown.
first section of the book is intelligible with detailed information regarding
Mantoo’s family, home, his communist mentor Bari Aleeg and his deep emotional
The migration of Mantoo’s ancestors from
to Lahore and then to Amritsar, where a mohalla of Mantoos existed in the Kocha
Vakeelyan is thoroughly traced by the author. The author further reveals that
Mantoo’s ancestors had abandoned their traditional shawl and Pashmina business
and adopted lawyer’s profession.
is delighted to know that Mantoo’s father Moulvi Ghulam Hassan, a sub-judge by
profession had like his son, Mantoo an emotional allegiance not only to Kashmir,
his separated ‘homeland’ but also with its centuries old cultural and historical
traditions. Though being physically far away from Kashmir, Mantoo’s father did
not lose memory of his Kashmiri origin.
also come to know about the Kashmiri origin of Mantoo’s wife Safia Begum, who
even though a resident of
was thoroughly a Kashmiri. Mantoo’s limitless love for
and his assertive feelings about it are also detailed with clarity in the book.
Dr. Brij Premi familiarizes the readers with Mantoo’s mentor and guide, Bari
Aleeg, a committed Marxist, who was greatly influenced by the revolutionary and
proletarian ideology of Marx, Engels and Lenin.
As per the
author, Mantoo even in adolescence was given to youthful pranks and elements of
sensationalism. The unrestrained chats laced with sensational remarks like :
"Americans have purchased Taj Mahal and would transport it to America with the
help of heavy machinery”, "Traffic police of Lahore have been provided with
jackets of Ice,” “My (Mantoo’s) fountain pen nib is made of donkey’s horn”,
would make people gasp in wonder and amazement.
indepth research indicates that Saadat Hassan Mantoo had no lure of money but
was given to simple living and high thinking. He had also no tendency to
camouflage his dealings. The reader also gets to know as to how Mantoo was
initiated to drinking by his childhood friend, Hari Singh Amritsari and the
circumstances which increased his addiction to alcohol during his stay at Delhi,
Bombay and lastly in Lahore. A vivid picture of Mantoo’s addiction to alcohol is
potrayed by the author, when Mantoo on his death-bed feversighly pleads for a
drop of liquor to be put in his mouth to overcome his overpowering thirst for
whisky. But the reader gets convinced that Mantoo resorted to alcoholism only to
comfort his lacerated heart, hurt by unending chain of misfortunes and unhappy
incidents in his life.
in the same vein, the author in the second section of the book gives a
comprehensive account of Mantoo under various headings such as Mantoo as a
novelist, Glimpses of Ghalib in Mantoo’s work, Mantoo as a translator besides
his association with the film industry etc. Detailed information about Mantoo’s
first novel ‘Untitled’ and his next novel ‘Takhleeq’ is given in
the book. Free use of Ghalib’s poetry by Mantoo in his writings is indicative of
Ghalib’s influence on him. Though Mantoo was not personally acquainted with
Shayir-e-Kashmir Mehjoor, yet he was successful in understanding Mehjoor through
his inspiring poetry.
Similarly, the book carries letters
written by Mantoo himself and the letters addressed to him, which are reminder
of the times when Mantoo was actively associated with journalism and film
industry. These letters reveal numerous incidents of his literary and personal
life and are of lasting literary value. The detailed information provided by
the author with regard to Mantoo’s translation work provides a valuable insight
into his literary excellence.
The book “Mantoo Katha”, written by
Dr. Brij Premi, is supplemented by graphic descriptions and valuable highlights
of those aspects of Mantoo’s life and works most of which had remained hidden
from the public gaze. Besides revealing Dr. Brij Premi's scholarly hold on the
Urdu language, the book also exhibits the amount of painstaking efforts
undertaken by the author. The book is appropriately titled, thoroughly enjoyable
and a hallmark contribution to the Urdu literary world.