Manto’s writings made me think: Ashwath Bhatt

Ashwath Bhatt as Manto

The play ‘Ek Mulaqat Manto Se’, performed by Ashwath Bhatt, was staged over the weekend at Jagriti Theatre. Ashwath, known for his roles in ‘Raazi’ and ‘Haider’, gets candid about the play. He also chats with Metrolife about his acting experience in theatre and films and more.

You’ve done both films and theatre. How are they different?

Live art has its own charm. Nobody can replace theatre from the satisfaction point of view, and nobody can replace cinema for its scale. But for an actor, theatre is the best place to practice the craft.

Do you connect with people through your art?

An art that is not connected to people is not art in my opinion. I often say that my theatre is a ‘theatre of connect’. 
I don’t make a place for awards. For me, art should move people.

In your play, you’ve captured Manto, the person. How is your Manto different?

I can’t comment on the performances of other actors. However, when I started with this idea, everyone was doing his stories, but not talking about the man. What interested me was how things affected him. He was not confident about himself in the beginning, so how did he evolve? And through this, I saw, how I evolved as a person.

Do you relate to Manto? Do you have a Kashmiri-connect like him?

I could relate to him straight away when I read his works. The themes in his writings were relevant to me and the issues he wrote about made me think.

From whatever I’ve read, he had a strong feeling for Kashmir, and I share that with him.

How did acting happen to you?

My mother was crazy about films. As a child, I used to watch the first day first shows. It won’t be an exaggeration if I say that I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to act.

When we moved from Kashmir to Delhi, I was introduced to theatre, and things took shape. It went beyond acting when I delved more into the theatre space; it became a therapy for me.

Do you have a role on your bucket list that you want to play?

There are many. But I want to play Forrest Gump; I love Tom Hanks.

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Manto’s writings made me think: Ashwath Bhatt

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