Aligarh Movie Review by Sputnik

Aligarh Synopsis
Aligarh is based on the heartbreaking and powerful story of Professor Siras, a prolific teacher who faced abject humiliation and persecution at the hands of university authorities and other citizens for being gay. On February 8th 2010, a crew from a local TV station secretly filmed Professor Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) having sex with a rickshaw puller in his house inside the university campus. The video led to condemnation by conservative religious groups and the university administration suspended him and asked him to leave the campus. He was found dead in his apartment two months later.

The movie is filled with excellent scenes like the scene where the reporters break into the Professor’s house or the scene where the Doctor doesn’t see him or the scene where he is thrown out of his apartment by the landlord or the courtroom scenes. The best scene of the movie is the courtroom scene where Professor Siras has to face questions like “Who is the male in this relationship?” and “how does he still have stamina for sex at his age of 64?” from the female lawyer.

The story by Ishani Banerjee and screenplay by Apurva Asrani stays pretty true to the actual story though there are a few cinematic liberties taken. The real Deepu Sebastian had phone conversations with Professor Siras but he never met him in real life except after he was dead. Siras never met his lawyer and he was in touch only through emails so the court deposition did not happen in real life.

Manoj Bajpayee is excellent as Professor Siras and he conveys every emotion that Professor Siras could have felt whether it be his gentleness or loneliness or frustration or humiliation or helplessness. Rajkummar Rao is good as usual as the reporter Deepu Sebastian but his Malayam accented Hindi came across only in a couple of scenes. Ashish Vidyarthi is very good as the lawyer Anand Grover. Balaji Gauri is excellent as Nita Grewal, the female lawyer. Suman Vaidya is very good as the PRO Shadab Qureshi. Sukhesh Arora is good as Professor Tahir Aslam.

Hansal Mehta’s direction is excellent and he handles the subject with extreme sensitivity. The movie shows how horrible life can be for a gay person in India having to face humiliation, ostracism and persecution. The movie effectively captures the regressive homophobic attitude of the Muslim officials of the Aligarh Muslim University who think a consensual act within one’s own home outrages the morality of Aligarh “Muslim” University. Some may feel that the movie is slow paced but the subject of a lonely Professor required those scenes of silences and lonely moments. Aligarh is definitely the best movie of the year so far.

Highly Recommended

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10 Comments
  1. Ritz 3 years ago

    Will have to check this. Thx for recco.

    • Author
      sputnik 3 years ago

      You are welcome.

  2. cr7 3 years ago

    “Aligarh is definitely the best movie of the year so far.” Said the same thing in another post .

    • Author
      sputnik 3 years ago

      Yeah I saw your comment and decided to check out the movie ASAP.

      Thanks for the recco.

      • cr7 3 years ago

        You watched Kapoor and sons ? Its another favorite of mine . Excellent movie . Tried to watch Neerja twice but got bored . Maybe I was expecting more.

        • Author
          sputnik 3 years ago

          No haven’t watched Kapoor and Sons yet. Will try to watch it soon.

          Had downloaded Neerja when it released. Tried watching it but it was a very bad print so did not watch it.

  3. sanket porwal 3 years ago

    So wanna watch Aligarh.
    My favorite movie this year has to be Kapoor and Sons so far

  4. saurabh sharma 3 years ago

    Have seen the movie couple of days back and liked it. Movie was engaging and didn’t bore me. But I was watching it on laptop and can understand that some scenes may bore you while you are in theatre. Basically I think its a laptop movie. But I would not see it again except to see Manoj acting.

    Manoj is excellent and he takes care of his body language very well.
    The way he shy or just sits by keeping hand close to his body between legs, the way he shows helplessness while people are beating him, his displeasure of using word gay and love.. his sincerity of saying what his feeling is -“an uncontrollable urge”. The way he shows his frustration with landlord. My best scene of him is his last scene, the way he is sleeping and getting up. You can feel that he is old by the way he goes to sleep on bed and wakes up.

    Raj kumar Rao is ok. In some scenes, he kind of confused/irritated me. I think may be he is feeling nervous in front of character Siras because may be he is infatuated by him. [just a guess].

    Hansal mehta handles sensitivity very well. When you see the sex scene between two men, you don’t feel odd, rather you feel same kind of feeling when you see two lover close.. Its because of Manoj too as you can see in his eyes that he is really liking his partner and playing. Anyways, that scenes must be very difficult . This is very well presented in one more scene, when Siras finally talks about his helpness and going to america, you immediately feel terrible about the gay people’s condition in india. You also feel the condition of a guy who is single at that age.

    Now coming to discussion-

    Wanted to know your [all] point about Deepu getting distracted multiple times about “someone is seeing them” in the sex scene. I felt he is private person and when he sees his privacy is getting invaded by someone, his friend got captured on camera in his private moments, so he is just afraid that someone may be seeing them now too.

    I also kept wondering that if Deepu is gay and likes Siras… I am still confused about it.. specially after thinking about how deepu used to react in front of siras [as mentioned above]. Deepu is not shy person but then he is also not very aggressive about the things that he really wants. if you see him fighting for going to aligarh, he accepts the defeats first time. When, in his room, he sees someone is having tuition and invading his privacy, he shouts but then he left house. He doesn’t act immediately.
    My point is, he may be a gay but not enough aggressive about this to share it with someone. Even in the sex scene, i felt he was spontaneously rejecting it and then when she kind of force her (not force but kind of pressure build up, generally happens in peer group).. he accepts her.. [again not very aggressive about what he wants].
    what is your point of view about it..
    I can understand deepu bring straight and doing so much for siras.. thats not my point.. my point is in certain scenes i felt like he is gay and likes siras.. like the selfie scene.

    • Author
      sputnik 3 years ago

      Agree that Manoj is excellent and he takes care of his body language very well.

      “This is very well presented in one more scene, when Siras finally talks about his helpness and going to america, you immediately feel terrible about the gay people’s condition in india. You also feel the condition of a guy who is single at that age.”

      Yes that part was handled very well by Hansal Mehta and one feels really sorry about the plight of gay people in India.

      “Wanted to know your [all] point about Deepu getting distracted multiple times about “someone is seeing them” in the sex scene. I felt he is private person and when he sees his privacy is getting invaded by someone, his friend got captured on camera in his private moments, so he is just afraid that someone may be seeing them now too.”

      Well they were doing it on the terrace and its understandable that he would be scared that someone might videotape them or come and thrash them after what happened to Siras.

      “”I think may be he is feeling nervous in front of character Siras because may be he is infatuated by him. ”

      I don’t think he was infatuated by him but Rakjummar usually plays his character in a certain innocent sort of way for example in Kai Po Che too so some may think he is infatuated with him.

      Since people aren’t openly gay in India and Deepu’s character probably came across a gay person for the first time there is a certain awkwardness among them which I think was deliberate by Hansal. In the scene where Deepu is messing with the electric wires he asks Siras to move behind and Siras reacts as if Deepu is scared because of him being gay but then Deepu tells him it is to avoid any electric shock.

      “When, in his room, he sees someone is having tuition and invading his privacy, he shouts but then he left house. He doesn’t act immediately.”

      I think that was Hansal just showing how privacy is encroached in different ways in India. Siras’ privacy is encroached by some reporters breaking into his house and videotaping him whereas in Deepu’s case the lady is seen encroaching his privacy by giving tutions in his room.

      “Even in the sex scene, i felt he was spontaneously rejecting it and then when she kind of force her (not force but kind of pressure build up, generally happens in peer group).. he accepts her.. [again not very aggressive about what he wants].
      what is your point of view about it..”

      I think that scene was more to show that the woman who is his boss was bold and that she initiated the sex act.

      “in certain scenes i felt like he is gay and likes siras.. like the selfie scene.”

      In India straight male friends usually do a lot of stuff that people in the west may think as gay. If Siras wasn’t gay then no one would think of Deepu taking a selfie with an elder Professor as gay or anything out of the ordinary. But once someone is gay any interaction with another male is looked with suspicion that they are gay together. I think Hansal was just playing on the audience’s minds with scenes like that to see if they can accept a straight men interacting with a gay man.

      • saurabh sharma 3 years ago

        I am though convinced by your reasons.
        During selfie scene, my point was that the way raj kumar rao asks for selfie, there is some nervousness, something in his eyes, that tells me that it was different than normal guys hanging out.
        I have been with many guys friends out when i was in india, but i really felt that scene was lil diff than norma guys.

        I would have never accepted this that about me – “once someone is gay any interaction with another male is looked with suspicion that they are gay together” but my writing exposed me. Now I think yes, i will feel lil nervous if a gay person will be around me as they can touch me , this is mostly because my interaction in india with gayish people or gay was bad[m not sure they were gay or not but felt like they were gay] . They were lil touchy kinda. I haven’t met any mature gay person till now, so may be once i meet someone like siras, my nervousness will go away. Also i think i might look straight people hanging out with gay with lil suspicion. Though I haven’t met any such group.

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