While we were still gawking at the reception Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s tour-de-force performance in Nandita Das’s Manto received at Cannes, another film announcement has sent us into a tizzy. Ismat Chughtai’s Lihaaf is getting adapted into a film and we cannot even with this.
Manto’s contemporary and dear friend, Ismat Chughtai was equally celebrated for her controversial and fearless prose.
First look of #Lihaaf [The Quilt] unveiled at #Cannes2018… Directed by Rahat Kazmi… Based on a story by Ismat Chugtai… Stars Tannishtha Chatterjee and Sonal Sehgal… Produced by Rahat Kazmi, Tariq Khan, Zeba Sajid, Namita Lal, Umesh Shukla, Utpal Acharya and Ashish Wagh. pic.twitter.com/dWyQAeDMe2
— taran adarsh (@taran_adarsh) May 16, 2018
Lihaaf (The Quilt) describes the love affair between a lonely woman called Begum Jaan, who seeks companionship in her masseuse, Rabbo. The story’s narrator is Begum Jaan’s niece, who is devastated when she finds out about the true nature of the relationship between the two women. Deepa Mehta’s Fire, starring Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das, was apparently loosely based on the story by Chughtai. Abhishek Chaubey’s Dedh Ishqiya had shades of Lihaaf too, or so critics said of Madhuri Dixit and Huma Qureshi’s characters.
The poster of the upcoming film is tastefully designed showing two pairs of feet, adorned with anklets emerging out of a (presumably) velvety quilt.
Lihaaf will star Tannishta Chatterjee and Sonal Sehgal in the lead roles. The film adaptation will be directed by Rahat Kazmi, who is credited with 2016’s Mantostaan, where he adapted four short stories by Saadat Hasan Manto.
Once the short story was published, it created quite an uproar and Chughtai was subjected to an obscenity trial. She was asked to apologise. She not only refused but also went on to win the case. Lihaaf is an important landmark for literature in the subcontinent, because it marks one of the first instances where sex was depicted with such frankness.
After the long-awaited Manto, it’s going to be another long wait for this one!