At Ismailia Cooperative Housing Society in Byculla, blank stares and curious queries follow the moment you mention the name Saadat Hasan Manto.
"Who is Manto," asked residents, unaware that the renowned Urdu fiction writer, whose centennial anniversary will be celebrated on Friday, lived for 12 years in this society, writing film scripts and poetry till he left Mumbai in 1948.
"During the 1992 riots, some people made a mention of Manto and his literary work from the time of partition," said HN Kalaniya, former professor of Maharashtra College, Nagpada. "However, he was not discussed too often," added Kalaniya, who has been residing near the society on Mirza Ghalib Marg since 1972.
The Byculla road was renamed 'Mirza Ghalib Marg', in memory of the national award winning film, 'Mirza Ghalib' (1954) that was written by Manto. "Even as the film won a national award in the Best Film category, nobody talked about Manto's contribution," said Rafique Baghdadi, film journalist and researcher, who has explored Manto's life in the city. "Despite being closely associated with the film fraternity, not much was written about him."
In his short life spanning 43 years, Manto left behind a legacy of some profound and popular contributions to Urdu literature including his short stories, 'Toba Tek Singh', 'Thanda Gosht', 'Khol Do' and 'Bu'.