There are many stories which go unheard and many movies which make you ponder over a range of things and issues. Aligarh is one such a movie.
A heartbreaking and poignant movie based on the life of Professor Dr. Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras who was found dead amidst mysterious circumstances. Dr. Siras was a professor of Marathi at the prestigious Aligarh Muslim University. A totally outsider to this place, he was talented and soon rose to a very glorious position in his career and was therefore envied upon. This prestigious university where he used to teach,had been the center for progressive and modern thoughts and studies for the minorities post the Mughal Era and gave rise to many freedom fighters.
However it could not give the befitting respect and dignity to a great and talented person Dr. Siras. Dr. Siras was found embracing and being intimate with a rickshaw puller in his bedroom when some people broke into his house illegally and videotaped both of them together. As a result of this,the University decided to suspend the professor and also told him to vacate his allotted apartment and all this because he was a homosexual and had a sexual orientation which many found not so normal.
Siras never liked such labels like ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual’. He believed that it was ‘love’ which governs our sexual preferences and choices. He is said it was an ‘urge’ which one cannot control. Siras was lonely and spent his evenings with a bottle of whisky and songs of Lata Mangeskar. The society and people had turned hostile towards him post this incident. He had to face a lot of pain and unnecessary criticism.Aligarh as the movie poses many questions in front of us. More than the issue of homosexuality, it talks about the right to privacy,human rights and the right of one to be happy. The government or outsiders have no business of interfering in things what people are doing inside their houses and bedrooms. A professor cannot be just suspended without any official enquirybecause of his sexual orientation and preferences. This movie definitely makes us think.
Coming to the star cast, Manoj Bajpayee delivers one of his career best performances. This veteran actor who mostly has appeared in critically acclaimed roles of him playing the villain or rough characters surprises us with his portrayal of the heartbroken and lonely Dr. Siras. After watching hon play this role onscreen, it seems no one else could have done this role better than him. He brings the right amount anguish,fear and dejection to the role. Rajkkumar Rao plays the role of the journalist Deepu Sebastian who covers this case of Dr. Siras’s suspension and develops a bonhomie with the professor.He is brilliant in his scenes and plays his part really well.The writers Apurva Asrani and Ishani Banerjee have done a tremendous job in developing such organic characters.
The director Hansal Mehta extracts the best from his actors and like his previous movies Citylights and Shahid, this is also a true hardhitting story where the lead character shines throughout.The last few moments of the movie are the best and are very much moving. You will feel goosebumps at the end.
Our country is still debating over issues like homosexuality and Article 377 and there are many more people out there suffering like Dr.Siras. Sexual preferences and orientation is a personal choice of any person and should be respected. No person should be prejudiced and be disrespected because of that. Dr. Siras suffered all the more because of the society and may not have met this unfortunate end had the society been bit supportive and liberal. He was treated like a criminal and eyes full of suspicion surrounded him everyday. He was nearly ostracized from the society because apparently he had indulged in something which was “immoral” to some others.In an claustrophobic and uncomfortable atmosphere like this, it is really difficult to live each day in life.
Films like Aligarh will probably start giving momentum in eradicating such misconceptions and practices.We as a society should ensure that these many people like Dr. Siras live happily and peacefully.The whole mentality of the society needs to be changed and movies can play a huge part in that process. Aligarh might have a bit slow pace in its narrative but gradually seeps in deep inside you.It will make you think and ponder over again and again. It will make you cry but at the same time marvel you with its powerful and strong message. Aligarh needs to be watched! Come out in large numbers and watch this beautiful movie!