Feb 26: Manoj Bajpayee does it again- delivers a brilliant performance that is worth remembering, and this time he single handedly carries the weight of the film, in director Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh. The movie is based on an episode from the life of Professor Ramachandra Siras, who was expelled from the reputed arts institute of India, Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh, because of his sexual orientation. The movie is a gem, as it not only raises a few questions which are very pertinent from contemporary point of view, but also breaks stereotypes.Also Read - Patralekhaa Finds a Way to Add Floral in Her Wedding Wardrobe, Wears a Slit Saree in New Pics
Bajapayee’s Professor Siras is a beautifully written character, which will be remembered as a watershed in Bollywood’s portrayal of queer characters. We would forever be grateful to this film for portraying a homosexual character realistically, instead of the typically frivolous and effeminate gay characters, which seldom make appearances in mainstream Hindi cinema just to provide comic relief. Also Read - Anubhav Sinha Shares a Cute Bollywood Moment From Rajkummar Rao-Patralekhaa’s wedding
Bajpayee has played the character of elderly Professor Siras with ultimate finesse and a sensibility that is so profound that one cannot escape it. He effortlessly captures the essence of Siras by his subdued ways and mild manners. Also Read: Aligarh movie review: Manoj Bajpayee starrer is more than a mere film Also Read - 67th National Film Awards Highlights: Rajinikanth Thanks Bus Driver Friend in Winning Speech; Kangana Ranaut Wins Big
Professor Siras’s is a complex character, which defies any linear explanation or typecast. His silences speak more than his words and his eyes are more evocative than the visuals. He is at once a guarded and shy elderly professor, who likes to enjoy his solitude to the company of whisky and Lata Mangeshkar songs but also a soft hearted poet, who yearns for love and falls prey to his desires, which trigger the events that change his life forever.
Rajkumar Rao plays the enthusiastic journalist Deepu Sebastian, who takes the initiative to help the misunderstood and wronged Siras, and quickly endears himself to the latter. But Bajpayee’s performance far outshines Rao’s, or anybody else’s, in the film. Another notable appearance is that of Ashish Vidyarthi, who plays Siras’s lawyer and defends his case in Allahabad High Court, finally winning the case for him.
The film challenges the issues of dominant notions of morality in Indian society and whether or not the Constitution should have the right to define morality for a country as diverse as India. The movie also makes a brief commentary on campus politics and how it undermines the credentials of a University, which should encourage debates and diversity, instead of commenting on and controlling people’s points of view and lifestyles.
A word of appreciation is necessary for the beautiful camera work and cinematography by Satya Rai Nagpaul, which complements the poetic character and mood of the film, creating a stunning effect. The opening scene especially remains imprinted on one’s mind, where Professor Siras emerges on a rickshaw being pulled by his lover, slowly singing to himself.
We would definitely recommend this movie to all film buffs, but would request them to go watch it without any expectations- the film is not merely made as a message or as a reminder of injustice and cruelty, but is made more as an appreciation of the beauty of love, which defies all labels.
Film: “Aligarh”; Director: Hansal Mehta; Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Rajkummar Rao, Ashish Vidyarthi and Delnaaz Irani.
Our Rating: 3 and 1/2