Manto actually wants to portray the problems (the tiny and great ones) of a prostitutes in India. In Kali Shalwar Manto explains following,. Religious and faith . काली सलवार has 45 ratings and 4 reviews. A collection of eighteen short stories by Saadat Hasan Manto, including ‘Khol Do’, ‘Bu’, ‘Dhuan’, and ‘Thanda Go. The latest addition to the growing corpus of Manto studies, My Name Is Radha: Defending his story Kali Shalwar, Manto writes in I Too Have.

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Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at… The surveyor of woman in herself is male: Thus she turns herself into an object—and most particularly an object of vision: This gaze, the internal and external, of both the man and woman, informs our daily interactions and defines the narratives we build.

काली सलवार by Saadat Hasan Manto

It shapes the work we do and mxnto art we make; the art throwing a new light on the narratives we have built for ourselves, forcing us to shift our perspective by tilting the camera angle, hoping, in the process, we all end up making more sense of the world. Saadat Hasan Manto made sense of the world through a sharp observation of social interactions, examining power structures from the perspective of the marginalised, especially the sex worker. He humanised her and empowered her in his stories.

What are the various ways salwa are accustomed to seeing a sex worker and courtesan? First, she is an object.

Second, she is a sexual object who uses her guile and coquetry to survive a male-dominated world. Third, she is a victim, of circumstances, of society, of birth, fate, or herself.

Kali Salwar – Wikipedia

Our most memorable cinematic impressions come from these broad classifications that include her perceived victimhood, courage and golden-heartedness as favourite tropes. Be it Chandramukhi, Salar, Umrao Jaan or Begum Jaan, we objectify her as we watch her being objectified, we victimise her as lali watch her being victimised.


We think we are cheering her courage and purity but by viewing her in this light, we empathise with her victimhood, not her, thus managing to maintain a safe distance.

But we watch Sultana in Kali Salwar with the same empathy and warmth with which we watch Charulata. We see dalwar much more of her in her home life when we see her alone.

This particular shift is unique to the film. In the original story, Sultana moves to Delhi and is a symbol of the condition of marginalised women. It universalises her situation, appropriately positioning her displacement as a bigger dilemma than sapwar shame of her profession, unshackling Sultana from the needless narrative burden of having to redeem herself from a sex worker to woman, for a fitting end.

It salawr not often we see disempowered women so quietly aware of their own victimisation but with enough gumption to run their own life anyway. Perhaps, it is this silent dignity accorded to the portrayal of the sex worker that makes its lyrical sensuality uniquely aesthetic, easy to divest from the squalor of its setting and relish for its own sake. In popular imagination, the sensualised portrayal has well-suited the courtesan and nautch girl Umrao Jaan, Devdas with the sex aslwar receiving the raw end of the stick.

While Umrao and Salwwr must play the role of the sensuous tease, Kajli in Mausam and Rekha in Salaam Bombay must be abuse-spitting and edgy. Their passions and expressions must have the abandon of having gone over the edge, never of enjoying herself playing this game. She does not question her work or her authority over her own self. Her archaic, layered clothing of rich texture and vibrant colours not only makes her look like the object of desire she dreams herself to be kalli also declares her spirited and abundant sensuality without sexualising her.

She is lit as a character and captured like a human being not an object. It is poverty that distresses her, not her profession.


The film ends in as much ambivalence as Charulata did and with as much compassion. When Sultana meets Mukhtar in the end their empowerment has dissolved, and all they can do is partake in a moment of silent piety together because their loss is shared too. In his time, Manto was largely vilified for his choice of subject, the sex worker who he portrayed with her integrity intact.

Since then, in what seems like a certain self-absolution of the male mango, popular art forms continue salawr be drawn to her, trying to redefine her mato with the same chauvinism that created her. Mehta, just like Manto does not redefine her but simply shifts the gaze with which we see her, redefining the older narratives instead, with an artful play of exaggeration and abbreviation, forcing us to question what we look at in a sex worker.

Andmaybe, understand where we all exist on this great gender giant wheel.

Unshackling Sultana

A moonlighter in fiction and non-fiction for a decade, the writer is currently enrolled in an adventure sports course called film editing at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. Printable version Dec 31, Odd Film Out Movies.

Fatema Kagalwala May 13, May 12, Ways of seeing What are the various ways we are accustomed to seeing a sex worker and courtesan?

Interiority We see so much more of her in her home life when we see her alone.

Silent dignity Perhaps, it is this silent dignity accorded to the portrayal of the sex worker that makes its lyrical sensuality uniquely aesthetic, easy to divest from the squalor of its setting and relish for its own sake. Sslwar Topics Entertainment Movies Indian cinema.

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