'Nandita's research gave me confidence to play Safia'

Actor Rasika Dugal says it could have been tough for her to play Saadat Hasan Manto's wife Safia but director Nandita Das' research and detailing about the character made things easier for her.

The 32-year-old actor says she was initially worried as not much is known about Safia. Nawazuddin Siddiqui is playing the titular role in Manto. "There is very little written about Safia. But Nandita spent a lot of time with Manto's family. She has already done a lot of work and it helped me a lot. She is someone, who believes in giving her 100 per cent to the detailing and sketches the character accordingly," said Rasika.

The actor says Nandita helped her connect to Manto's daughter Nusrat and the inputs she gave added a lot more conviction to her performance. "During our research, we got to know that Safia used to read all of Manto's work before they were published and he would wait to see her reaction. He was a doting husband. I have also spoken to his middle daughter Nusrat aapa and the insight she gave us into Manto and Safia's lives helped me and Nawaz in getting the chemistry right."

A special teaser of Manto was unveiled during the Cannes Film Festival. "It is beautiful to have this opportunity. It is lovely for the film to have this kind of publicity at the initial stage," she says.

The actor credits Nandita for taking the project to the international market. "Nandita is a respected director and that gives so much credibility and respect to the project. I think that we have been able to get HP studios as our producers only because of Nandita," she says. "Apart from being a well-connected director, she is a fabulous director. My first focus is always how the film is turning out," she said.
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