Even though actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui and filmmaker Nandita Das have been awarded at the 12th Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) for their movie Manto, based on the life of the late Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto and Nawazuddin was even awarded the Best Performance By An Actor for it, the movie was stalled in Pakistan but the people finally came out on streets yesterday in the hope to make the movie see the light of the day. As writers, activists and journalists in Pakistan held a nationwide protest on Monday, against a ban on Nandita Das’ Manto, the filmmaker couldn’t help but tweet her appreciation and heartfelt gratitude for the people coming out in her support across the border.

Taking to her Twitter handle, Nandita wrote, “Beyond borders, the fight for freedom of expression is the same. Thanks to all those in Pakistan who are working to free ‘Manto’. Thanks to everyone who has taken to the streets to protest against the ban on ‘Manto’ in Pakistan. I am there with you in spirit, and so is the entire ‘Manto’ team.”

Later, in another post she tweeted, “Amazing to see people out on the streets to protest. Salima Hashmi, artist and daughter of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, and others! Respect and gratitude.”

An online petition on change.org had initially been started by Saeed Ahmed, a journalist and playwright, a key consultant for Manto, urging the Imran Khan government to allow the film’s release. Following that, the peaceful protests were held in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Multan, in collaboration with the Manto Memorial Society.

Expressing her gratitude to Ahmed, Nandita had said, “I am overwhelmed by the spontaneous support it has garnered from so many around the world. It is very moving to see that so many writers, artists, activists, concerned citizens have taken it upon themselves to fight the battle to screen ‘Manto’ in Pakistan. My team and I can take zero credit for this. I hope the needle will move and Geo TV – Har Pal Geo, the distributor, will also join the efforts.”

Last month, Pakistan’s Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry had extended help to Nandita and messaged her on Twitter, “I am trying to pursue importers to bring this movie to Pak(istan). I hope someone will definitely take risk of showing a less commercial film to the viewers.”