Liff Special Review: Toba Tek Singh

Saadat Hassan (Vinay Pathak, whose character’s name serves as a nod to the author who wrote the story the film is based on) arrives at the Lahore Mental Hospital in 1947, just prior to Partition and the subsequent independence of India and Pakistan. He serves both as a narrator of events outside the hospital, and a witness to events inside it.

Ketan Mehta (perhaps best known for Mirch Masala and Bhavni Bhavai)’s film is an adaptation of Saadat Hassan Manto’s short story, “Toba Tek Singh”, which deals with the exchange of the patients of a mental institution several years after Partition. The Lahore Mental Hospital’s most curious inmate is Bishan Singh (Pankaj Kapur), a man who never sits, never lies down, and who, it is said, has not slept for ten years. Bishan Singh, generally quiet, does, nevertheless, have a bit of nonsense that he babbles every so often,
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