Aligarh, based on Prof Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). 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.
Prof 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.
Censor board rated the film an ‘A’ certificate. His reasoning was that Aligarh was about homosexuality – a subject he deemed unfit for children. While 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.
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 remembered Bajpayee as Bhikhu Mhtare (Satya) and Sardaar Khan (Gangs of Wasseypur), but Siras is by far his career best—a spell-binding performance.