Ismat Chugtai’s Lihaaf poster gets unveiled at Cannes Film Festival 2018

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) was launched at Cannes Film Festival ​2018 at India Pavilion on May 12. 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 Marc. 

Known as the showman of Bollywood, Subhash Ghai was present as a special guest to unveil the poster, while speaking at the event, 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.  

Marc 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 Lance and many other international productions, has played the role of Ismat Chugtai in the film and is very excited about it. 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 the media Marc said, “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. It still ranks as one of the landmark cases in support of freedom of thought and expression in literature, reminisent of another celebrated case, of D.H. Lawranc’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover.” 

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.”

About the Director – Rahat Kazmi

Rahat started his dierctorian venture with his film Identity Card – based on the Kashmit conflict. It wind critical acclaim and awards including best film andf best director at San Francisco global movie festival. Parts of this film were shown in the eurpean parliament in brussles as a context to the discussions on Kashmir.​ His most recent film Mantostan was awarded best director at London Asian film festival 2017.

About the Actors: 

Tanishta Chatterjee plays the role of Ismat Chugtai. She is an acclaimed actress and known for Bafta nominated Brick Lane. She has acted in many international films including academy nominated Lion. She is also jury member of many A-listed festivals. 

Sonal Sehgal plays Begum Jaan. She has acted in many films and is known for her performance in Nagesh Kuknoor’s acclaimed Aashayein.

Namita Lal plays Rabbo. She is an acclaimed theatre actress having performed in multiple English and Indian language productions in Singapore and Mumbai.

Mir Sarwar plays Nawaab. Mir is known for his performance in Kashmir Daily and Half Widow.

Shoib Nikash Shah plays Manto. Shoib has done many films including Million Dollar Nomad and Mantostan

The film has been co-written by Rahat Kazmi and Sonal Sehga. The producers are Rahat Kazmi, Tariq Khan, Zeba Sajid, Namita Lal (Singapore), Umesh Shukla, Utpal Acharya and Ashish Wagh. It is co-produced by Oscar winning producer Marc Baschett known for Oscar winning No Man’s Land and Lunch Box and consulted by Golda Sellam of Cinelink France. Media Mark International Corporation Canada is one of the International Co Producers.