Hansal Mehta , producer -director of Aligarh, based on the life of Prof Shri Niwas Ramchandra Siras of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), said on Monday that an “extra-constitutional ban” had been imposed on his film in the Aligarh district by people who had the support of mayor Shakuntala Bharti .
Refuting the charges, Bharti said, “I have only objected to the name of the film. Aligarh has the world-famous Aligarh Muslim University and poets like Padma Bhushan Gopal Das Neeraj. Using the name of such a city as the title of a film that is based on a gay scandal is an attempt to defame it.” She further clarified, “I have not talked to Hansal Mehta or any other person on the issue. I have not even demanded anything from the district administration– only that the name of the film be changed.”
District officials too have confirmed that there was no ban on the release of Aligarh. “If any cinema hall is not showing the film as a precautionary measure then that is their decision,” they added.
Apurva Asrani, scriptwriter of Aligarh told HT, “The film does not depict the culture of Aligarh anywhere. Those who are alleging that the film’s title is defaming the city have not seen it.”
Rajkumar Rao, who plays the role of a journalist in the film said, “People who are opposing the release of the film should first see it. Prof Siras spent 30 years in Aligarh and was a part of its culture. The film does not promote homosexuality.”
Reportedly, a cinema hall in Aligarh had screened the movie on Friday. However, later due to fears of backlash, the owners decided not to screen any further shows.
Expressing views on the controversy around the film’s title, Parvez Siddiqui, president of Sir Syed Minority Foundation said, “If the producer changes the name (of the movie), I will roam around the city with him in favour of his film.”
Among the groups that have registered protest against Aligarh is Millat Bedari Muhim Committee (MBMC). In a letter sent to union information & broadcasting minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, MBMC had demanded a change in the name of the movie. MBMC secretary, Dr Jasim Mohammad even burnt down posters of the film.
However, many citizens have an alternate view. Environmentalist, Ranjan Rana said, “The film depicts reality. Cinema is our mirror and we should not curtail its freedom. If we cannot see the film here then we will go to Noida to see it.”
Watch: Manoj Bajpayee, rajkummar Rao in Aligarh trailer
Different voices, one issue
Prof Asim Siddiqui, media adviser to AMU VC said, “I had seen a show of the film at 7.00 pm on Friday. There were very few viewers in the hall.”
Anil Shukla, manager of Great Value Mall said, “We sold a few tickets online on February 26 and ran one show. Now we are not running any more shows.”
Avdhesh Tiwari, ADM (City) said, “Cinema managements have not informed the district administration about any threat to security. If they request for security then we will provide it to them.”
Anshul Gupta, SP (City) said, “If cinema hall owners desire to screen the shows, police will be deployed (to held them).”
MP Singh, inspector (entertainment tax) said, “We cannot pressurise cinema hall managements to show or not show any film. The department is concerned only with tax.”
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