Tuesday, April 14, 2020




(  Photo.. Manto as Air  Force Officer  Kripa Ram in 'Eight Days ')

Not many of us know that Saadat Hasan Manto  has also acted in a Mumbai movie  'Aath Din'  ( Eight Days ) produced in 1946 by his friend and actor Ashok Kumar. Well known writer Upendra  Nath Ashk also acted in this movie. Ashk was a  friend of Manto since AIR days . He was  a Punjabi from Jalandhar . Ashk was associated with 'Filmistan' company  as screenplay, story  and dialogue writer. Consequently ,he was  well known to Ashok Kumar and Sashadhar Mukherjee (S. Mukherjee ). Manto and Ashk first worked together in AIR Delhi along with Krishan Chander and other Hindi/Urdu writers. Manto quit his job and came to Bombay to write for films. 

In ' Aath Din (Eight Days ) ' , Manto performed the role of Air Force Officer Kripa Ram while   Upendra Nath Ashak  did  the role  of Pandit Tota Ram. The movie was produced by FILMISTAN  that had Manto and Ismat Chugtai in its  story department . 

 Devika Rani and her husband Himanshu Rai had started Bombay Talkies in 1934.  Actor  Ashok Kumar was  a salaried employee of   Bombay Talkies  for about five years. Himanshu Rai died in 1940 and  later in 1943,  Shashadhar Mukherjee, Rai Bahadur Chunilal, Ashok Kumar, and Gyan Mukherjee left Bombay Talkies and founded Filmistan Studios . 

For the movie  ‘ Aath  Din (Eight Days) ’  , Manto wrote the  screenplay and dialogues apart from performing the role of Air Force Officer Kirpa Ram.  S D Burman, who headed the Music Department of  FILMISTAN  ,   scored the music for the movie .  Gopal Singh Nepali and Qamar Jalalabadi wrote songs for the movie  . Apart from Amirbai Karnataki ,Binapani Mukherjee and some more singers,  Burman Dada also sang two songs for the movie .

                     ( Upendra Nath Ashk) 

In his book , "Manto Mera Dushman" Ashk writes this :-

" Manto's films, Chal Chal Re Naujawan and Shikari, despite taking two years each to complete, had been failures, and so Ashok Kumar approached me for a story. I told him a couple of plots I had in mind. Ashok liked one and asked me to write up an outline. I told him that before starting any outline, I wanted it to be clear that I needed an advance of two thousand rupees. In those days my salary was Rs. 675, but that was as a dialogue-writer, not a storywriter. If I was going to write the story, I thought I should get two thousand rupees for it. Even though Ashok Kumar was Mukherjee's wife's brother, there was a bit of ill-will between the two brothers-in-law in those days. Ashok told me to talk to Mukherjee about it, but Mukherjee did not like me, so I refused. Then Ashok said he would tell Seth Chunnilal, and that I should speak to Chunnilal and write the outline in the meantime.

Manto got wind of the news that Ashok had come to me for a story and that I was asking for two thousand rupees. He teamed up with the sound-recordist Savak Vacha to make Ashok change his mind. Vacha and Ashok had been together since the time of Bombay Talkies. Manto and Vacha took Ashok to Vacha's flat. Vacha used to keep very high quality alcohol at his place. They did not let Ashok leave until they got him to promise that Manto would write the story for the new film, and that the muhurat would be held the next day.

Because the muhurat ended up taking place before the actual story for the film had been decided, they faced many problems while making the film, but that's an entirely different story, and a long one too. Manto had given them his story for free, knowing that I had asked for an advance, (even though he gave them trouble and asked for money later when the film was half done), and thus he managed to conspire against me quite successfully. I felt terrible at the time, especially since I'd written the outline for my story and was waiting for Ashok Kumar's response. And yet, the muhurat had already taken place. Mukherjee was not pleased with me, so I had no other choice but to swallow the bitter pill of my defeat."

Ashk  had put to pieces a play written by Manto  when both worked together at AIR. Manto had quarrelled with *N M Rashid , the then Station Director over this issue and resigned . However , it was Manto who had invited Ashk to Mumbai to join films .It is pertinent to mention that when Ashok Kumar suggested  the role of Kripa Ram, Manto thought Ashok Kumar was  kidding. Very soon he  realised that his friend was  very serious. Film  lyricist Raja Mehdi Ali Khan also put some additional pressure on Manto . Raja was a bosom friend of Manto . Raja too had a small role in the movie. And Manto has written,   “Only God knows how terror-stricken I felt in front of the camera.”

( Avtar Mota )


Noon Meem Rashid was a progressive and liberal poet. He was the  doyen of free verse genre in Urdu poetry . His poem ,"Aey meri humraqs mujh ko thaam le zindagi se bhaag kar aaya huun mein ' became very popular in the subcontinent. He was posted as Station Director AIR, Peshawar in August 1947. Staying in the newly formed country for about 5 years. he moved to the US and joined Voice of America. He held some UN assignments and died in England where he was cremated as per his will. Rashid was related to Patras Bukhari , a writer, broadcaster and diplomat of Kashmiri ancestry.The real name of Patras Bukhari was Syed Ahmed Shah .Patras Bukhari was also the mentor of Rashid

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