Aligarh is no Bajirao Mastani. It’s a small film. But with a heart and soul as big and brave as it can be. Watch out for the film that Mahesh Bhatt has rated as “a brave film by a brave director” and left Karan Johar speechless.
It’s a film that is creating a stir even before it has hit the Indian screens. Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh, which premiered at the Busan Film Festival and opened the MAMI, has anyway been hailed as one of the best films on homosexuality by critics around the world. But then Hansal, who has given us the National Award-winning Shahid, takes neither criticism nor appreciation too seriously.
Director Hansal Mehta says, “My films are as much about tragedy as hope. Like all good films, Aligarh too is character-driven. So when people go back after watching his film he expects them to remember and realise that here was a beautiful man, professor Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras, an intellectual and a poet who was victimised for his sexual preferences. Since he lived and died, India and its people, he feels, have changed for sure.
As Manoj’s performance in the film is likely to go down as his career best, Hansal calls it “career-defining,” the gifted actor does agree that it’s indeed his most challenging part till date. The most difficult scene to can was the one in which he is shown sipping whisky listening to Lata Mangeshkar’s songs and the camera stays on his face for seven long minutes. Hansal too feels that while it’s easy to talk about loneliness in the script, it’s an insurmountable task to do so on silver screen.Manoj never proclaimed that no other actor could have done this role only that no top star would have agreed to do so. Method actor, a brilliant one, he has been eulogised many which ways, but he would only like to be known just as an actor.
Hansal says, “People in India are certainly in sync with the times only our Parliamentarians aren’t.” Besides our ideological organisations, such as right wing Hindu and Muslim groups, he feels continue to be homophobic. “Why they are Hindu-phobic, Muslim-phobic, minority-phobic and Dalit-phobic?” About censor board, which gave an A certificate to film’s trailer too, his opinion can only be acerbic.
It’s a man’s love story with his life that is interrupted by the society. The institution he worked for invaded his privacy and converted his solitude into loneliness. People isolated him from the world, which was unfair.