In Picture: Poster of Ismat Chugtai’s ‘Lihaaf’ unveiled at Cannes 2018

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The first look poster of award winning director Rahat Kazmi’s feature film based on Ismat Chugtai’s most celebrated and most controversial story ‘​Lihaaf’​ (The Quilt) Launched in Cannes Film Festival ​at India Pavilion on 12th May. Oscar winning producer of ‘No Man’s Land’ Marc Baschet has joined hands with Indian producers of ‘Lihaaf’​. “I am very happy to be part of a film with such a strong theme with universal appeal”, said Baschet.

Showman of Bollywood Subhash Ghai was present as a special guest to unveil the poster, while speaking he congratulated the team and French producer for such a powerful subject which generally filmmakers don’t dare to touch, he also added that Ismat Chugtai was such a strong woman and much ahead of her times who raised voice about such strong issues through her stories.

Baschet added, “I first heard the story of Lihaaf (The Quilt) when I met Namita in the film bazaar in Goa in November last year. I was struck by the theme of the story and decided to follow the development of the film as a mentor. Golda, who also heard the narration from Namita in Goa was happy to be a consultant to this team. Apart from the story,I was also very impressed with this young team of professional film makers who bring such sensitive, delicate stories to life on the big screen.”

Tannishtha Chatterjee best known in the west for BAFTA nominated ‘Brick Lane’ and many other international productions has played the role of Ismat Chugtai and is very excited about the film. Apart from Tannistha, Sonal sehgal who plays the character of Begum and is also the co-writer of the film with Rahat Kazmi has put her blood and sweat to get her character right. Namita Lal is the other most important character; the lady love of Begum (Sonal), Namita had already played the character of Rabbo in theatre in Singapore and that was the reason that she bagged the role of Rabbo. Shoib Nikash Shah plays ‘Manto’, who was earlier seen and acclaimed for ‘Mantostaan’.​

While talking to media Baschet says, “Lihaaf, is based on a short story by a celebrated Indian female Urdu writer – Ismat Chugtai. She wrote it in 1942. The story itself is a narrative of a true event in the life of Ismat when she was in her teens and stayed in a feudal family for a short while.The story deals with a subject which is still considered taboo in large parts of the world. In this, Ismat was much ahead of her times. Not surprisingly, she was slapped with a legal case for depicting obscenity in her story. However she refused to apologise and defended herself for 3 years in a Lahore court.”

Rahat adds, “Lihaaf (The Quilt) looks at an emotional and physical relationship of a neglected woman (Begum) with her lady masseur borne from a suffocating feudal environment as seen through the eyes of a teenager (Ismat). In her innocence, she cannot even make sense of it. But her story becomes a powerful critique of the contemporary society of rich land owing men lost in the pursuit of their male- centric pleasures to the utter neglect of their women folk, who then sought their joys from their female company.”

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