Manoj Bajpayee plays Professor Siras in Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh.(Facebook)
Manoj Bajpayee plays Professor Siras in Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh.(Facebook)

Aligarh review: Manoj Bajpayee touches your heart, changes perceptions

At a time when notions of morality and jingoism are obstructing the ideas of freedom, democracy and individualism, Manoj Bajpayee-Rajkummar Rao-starrer Aligarh is a must-watch. Watch this flm by Hansal Mehta if you care for society, watch it if you want freedom and democracy to prevail in the society but most of all, watch it if you care for your own right to privavcy.
By Sweta Kaushal | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2016 01:35 PM IST

Aligarh

Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Rajkummar Rao, Ashish Vidyarthi

Director: Hansal Mehta

Rating: 4.5/5

The man who gave us stark movies like Citylights and Shahid, brings yet another gritty film to theatres this Friday – Aligarh, Hansal Mehta’s film on Professor Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras of the Aligarh Muslim University.

Professor Siras, a homosexual, was suspended for having consensual sex with a rickshaw puller in the privacy of his house. He took his case up in the Allahabad high court and won in 2010. However, he never resumed his post as he was found dead, days after the court gave verdict in his favour.

In a strong message advocating the right to privacy and equality, Manoj Bajpayee plays Prof Siras and Rajkummar Rao plays Deepu Sebastian, the journalist who brought the professor’s true story out of the closet.

Read: A brief history of homosexuality in Bollywood

Read: Here’s why it’s ok to show Aligarh to your teenage children

Aligarh cooked up a storm even before its release as the censor board chief, Pahlaj Nihalani, rated the film and its trailer with an A certificate. His reasoning was that Aligarh was about homosexuality – a subject he deemed unfit for children. Having watched the film, we would like to tell Mr Nihalani that the film does not ‘promote’ homosexuality – it is about human rights, equality, right to privacy and the idea of democracy for all, obviously including homosexuals.

Manoj plays a shy and lonely 64-year-old man who loves his job as a language teacher, spends his free time listening to old melodies of Lata Mangeshkar and sipping whiskey – a common man with simple ideas.

His solitude is disrupted when local TV journalists break into his bedroom and film his sexual acts without his permission, at the behest of his own colleagues.

Aligarh review | Manoj Bajpayee’s impactful acting makes an umissable point


Caught in a vortex of jealousy after being promoted to head the department of Modern Indian Languages, Siras best explains his predicament: “Bahar ka admi mana jata hu, Shadishuda logo ke beech akela rehta hu, Urdu bolne wale sheher mein Marathi seekhata hun (I’m considered an outsider, I live alone among married couples, and I teach Marathi in an Urdu speaking community).”

The university takes action against Siras for his sexuality, but ignores his violation of privacy. After all, ‘morals’ of the organisation trump one’s individual rights.

Rajkummar Rao plays a journalist in the film. (YouTube)
Rajkummar Rao plays a journalist in the film. (YouTube)

Mehta’s narration of the film takes on this injustice with the simple facts. There are no iconic dialogues; but telling silence speaks volumes of Siras’s solitude and capture the audience. “Kavita shabdo ke beech ki khamoshi mein hoti hai, har koi umr aur paristhiti ke hisaab se uska matlab nikalta hai. (The poetry is in the silences between words; their meaning depends on the age and situation one is in),” Manoj’s Siras explains.This best sums up Mehta’s sensitivity towards his subject.

Unlike Bollywood’s stereotype of the loud, floral-loving homosexual, Aligarh very sensitively champions their cause. Mehta’s unusual hero takes special efforts to emphasise the fact that everyone is entitled to their sexual preference and should enjoy the freedom to love. He defies labels and often tells Deepu that we should stop trying to categorise everything and everyone.

Despite its seriousness, the film has its lighter moments – a blushing 64-year-old man, an unapologetically intrusive landlady, a meeting between Manoj and Rajkummar on the banks of Ganga.

Hansal Mehta is the director of Aligarh. (YouTube)
Hansal Mehta is the director of Aligarh. (YouTube)

Storytelling aside, Aligarh is supported by the immense acting prowess of Manoj Bajpayee. Be it the body language, the hint of a Marathi accent or the poetic mind of a professor, Manoj pays attention to the smallest of details.

We’ve seen in him as Bhikhu Mhtare (Satya) and Sardaar Khan (Gangs of Wasseypur), but Siras is by far his career best. A spell-binding performance with the trappings of warmth, love and agony, it is hard to look away from him.

Read other film reviews here

Rajkummar Rao has a tough act to follow, but slips into his role with ease. Deepu Sebastian’s struggles as a novice in the profession are relatable, and his passion to make a difference, engaging. Ashish Vidyarthi as Siras’s lawyer supports the duo with applaudable realism.

Watch: Manoj Bajpayee, Rajkummar Rao in Aligarh trailer

At a time when notions of morality and jingoism are obstructing the ideas of freedom, democracy and individualism, Aligarh is a must-watch. It’s a reminder that freedom of choice can never be less important, and that is what democracy is about.

Follow @htshowbiz for more.

The author tweets @swetakaushal

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Kavita Kaushik had accused Abhinav Shukla 'violent' messages several years ago.
Kavita Kaushik had accused Abhinav Shukla 'violent' messages several years ago.

Rubina has not discussed Kavita’s allegations with Abhinav. Here is why

PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 09:57 PM IST
Rubina Dilaik said that she has complete faith in her husband, Abhinav Shukla, and has not discussed with him the allegations made against him by Kavita Kaushik, about sending her 'violent' messages.
Close
Arjun Kapoor, Malaika Arora and Karisma Kapoor clicked outside Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan's residence.(Varinder Chawla)
Arjun Kapoor, Malaika Arora and Karisma Kapoor clicked outside Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan's residence.(Varinder Chawla)

Arjun-Malaika and Karisma visit Saif and Kareena's newborn. See photos

UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 09:51 PM IST
  • Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan, who welcomed their second son earlier this month, got a visit from Arjun Kapoor, Malaika Arora and Karisma Kapoor.
Close
Pavitra Punia and Eijaz Khan are lovingly nicknamed 'PaviJaz' by fans.
Pavitra Punia and Eijaz Khan are lovingly nicknamed 'PaviJaz' by fans.

Pavitra slams trolls 'spreading hate' about her relationship with Eijaz

UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 08:56 PM IST
  • Pavitra Punia lashed out at those criticising her relationship with Eijaz Khan and reiterated that they do not need the approval of haters. The couple fell in love during Bigg Boss 14.
Close
Priyanka Chopra was bowled over by Nick Jonas' performance.
Priyanka Chopra was bowled over by Nick Jonas' performance.

Priyanka Chopra gushes over Nick Jonas' performance of This Is Heaven on SNL

UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 08:18 PM IST
Nick Jonas' performance of This Is Heaven on Saturday Night Live drew praise from his wife, Priyanka Chopra. She called it 'one of (her) favourites' from the album Spaceman.
Close
Kangana Ranaut played hostess for the Tejas team.
Kangana Ranaut played hostess for the Tejas team.

Kangana shares a glimpse into her home as she hosts Sunday feast for Tejas team

UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 07:23 PM IST
  • Kangana Ranaut played hostess for the team of Tejas, as they went to her house on Sunday for a meeting. She shared pictures of the get-together, giving fans a glimpse of her home as well.
Close
Prabhas in and as Salaar.
Prabhas in and as Salaar.

Salaar release date out: Prabhas to 'rebel worldwide' in April 2022

PTI
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 06:28 PM IST
Salaar director Prashanth Neel announced the release date of the film, starring Prabhas in the titular role, on Twitter. The film will be out on April 14, 2022.
Close
Aishwarya Rai look-alike Aamna Imran talks about the rise in popularity, her India connection and more.
Aishwarya Rai look-alike Aamna Imran talks about the rise in popularity, her India connection and more.

Aishwarya Rai lookalike Aamna Imran has a secret Indian connection

By Dishya Sharma
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 06:07 PM IST
  • Aamna Imran, dubbed as Aishwarya Rai's doppelgänger, took the internet by storm this weekend with her uncanny resemblance to the Bollywood actor. The Pakistani social media influencer has revealed that she has an Indian connect.
Close
Varun Sharma will soon be seen in Roohi.
Varun Sharma will soon be seen in Roohi.

Kasautii Zindagi Kay played a vital role in Roohi star Varun Sharma's love life

PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 05:52 PM IST
  • Roohi actor Varun Sharma opened up about his love life in a recent interview. He recalled bonding with a girl he liked from school when his mother was busy watching Kasautii Zindagi Kay.
Close
Rubina Dilaik and Abhinav Shukla came together on Bigg Boss 14.
Rubina Dilaik and Abhinav Shukla came together on Bigg Boss 14.

Rubina laughs off Abhinav’s claim that she wanted divorce over a cup of coffee

PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 05:45 PM IST
Rubina Dilaik denied that she and Abhinav Shukla almost got divorced because he forgot to get her coffee. She called it 'one of the many thousand examples that he conveniently said'.
Close
The Trial of Chicago Seven is nominated in Best Drama category.
The Trial of Chicago Seven is nominated in Best Drama category.

Golden Globe 2021 nominees list: Ahead of ceremony, mark your favourites

AFP
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 05:12 PM IST
Golden Globe 2021 are just hours away and here is a list of nominees in all key categories. The ceremony will telecast in India on early Monday morning.
Close
Nick Jonas being grilled by Ego Nwodim as Dionne Warwick.
Nick Jonas being grilled by Ego Nwodim as Dionne Warwick.

Priyanka fans want to know her reaction after raunchy moment with Nick on SNL

PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 04:59 PM IST
Nick Jonas hosted the latest Saturday Night Live episode and was subjected to a rather raunchy moment with Ego Nwodim as Dionne Warwick.
Close
Golden Globes 2021 takes place this weekend.
Golden Globes 2021 takes place this weekend.

Golden Globes 2021: Date, time and where to watch on TV and online

PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 04:10 PM IST
  • The Golden Globes 2021 winners will be announced on February 28 (March 1 in India). Here's what time the 78th Golden Globe Awards will commence and how to watch the show.
Close
Parth Samthaan and Erica Fernandes in Kasautii Zindagii Kay.
Parth Samthaan and Erica Fernandes in Kasautii Zindagii Kay.

Parth Samthaan reveals why he quit Kasautii Zindagii Kay reboot

PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 04:03 PM IST
  • Parth Samthaan opened up about his decision to quit the popular show, Kasautii Zindagii Kay, last year. He said that it had become repetitive for him after a point.
Close
Anil Kapoor went on to strangle Rahul Bose with a wire and had to be reminded that it was just a shoot.
Anil Kapoor went on to strangle Rahul Bose with a wire and had to be reminded that it was just a shoot.

Anil Kapoor shares the Dil Dhadakne Do scene when he almost killed Rahul Bose

UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 03:54 PM IST
  • Anil Kapoor reveals he had really looked forward to shooting a scene that had him taking a stand for his onscreen daughter, Priyanka Chopra, in the film Dil Dhadakne Do.
Close
Russo Brothers, Kevin Feige and other Marvel executives with Tom Holland.
Russo Brothers, Kevin Feige and other Marvel executives with Tom Holland.

'We were relentless to cast Tom Holland as Spider-Man': Russo Brothers

PTI
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 03:45 PM IST
Russo Brothers have revealed how they always wanted Tom Holland, a British actor, to play Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP