Lihaaf, a short story by Ismat Chugtai has been adapted into a film by the same name by Rahat Kazmi. The film’s first poster was unveiled at the Cannes Film Festival on May 12, 2018.
The 1st look poster of #RahatKazmi‘s film based on #IsmatChugtai‘s most controversial Story #Lihaaf launched at #Cannes2018 . Producers Rahat Kazmi, Tariq Khan, Zeba Sajid, Namita Lal, @umeshkshukla, @Utpal24x7 & @aashishw17. Stars #TanishtaChatterjee and #SonalSehgal in leads. pic.twitter.com/EqkVS1lSI3
— Atul Mohan (@atulmohanhere) May 16, 2018
The Urdu story which was published in 1942 had stirred controversy and a case was filed against Ismat Chugtai for obscene content. Lihaaf spoke of two women, Begum Jan and her masseuse, Rabbo. Chugtai portrayed the two woman as having a relationship with homosexual undertones and this upset the ‘morality’ of the people of the time. It openly talked about sex and of the loneliness of a housewife. Ismat won the court case and Lihaaf became her most famous work.
Oscar-winning producer Marc Baschett, who is one of the producers of the film said, ‘Ismat was ahead of her time, which is why I am not surprised that she was slapped with a legal notice for depicting obscenity in her story. However, she refused to apologise and defended herself for three years in a Lahore court. Ultimately, she won.’
Ismat Chughtai wrote on themes like female sexuality and femininity, middle-class gentility, and class conflict, often from a Marxist perspective. She was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1976.
Chughtai’s Lihaaf is told from the perspective of a small girl who visits her aunty, Begum Jan and lives with her for a few days. Through her, the reader gets to know that Begum Jan’s husband is gay and that there is something ‘unusual’ in Begum Jan’s relationship with Rabbo. Lihaaf means a quilt in Urdu.
Lihaaf features Tannishtha Chatterjee, Sonal Sehgal, Namita Lal, Mir Sarwar and Shoib Nikash in key roles. It has been co-written by Rahat Kazmi and Sonal Sehgal.