Aligarh, a melancholic narration of a man’s journey as he struggles with prejudices and alienation in the last few months of his professional years.
Based on true events, Aligarh is a story of Ramchandra Siras, bachelor, homosexual, Marathi professor at Aligarh University, each detail of his character no less important than the other.
With those poignant baggy eyes, rough grey hair and stooping shoulders, Manoj Bajpai carries the weight of Siras with sheer brilliance. His retort to the shallowness of words like ‘gay’ and ‘love’ are plain yet thought provoking. How his eyes travel from anger to blush to helplessness and to oblivion is what touches your soul and aches your heart.
Bajpai plays a shy and quiet old teacher, who likes his job and spends his free time sipping whiskey on Lata Mangeshkar classics. His unperturbed life is quietly moving from dawn to dusk until one night two local journalists barge into his privacy and humiliate him to the extent of videotaping his consensual sex with a rikshawallah/friend.
Rajkumar Rao as Debu, a journalist from Delhi, brings in brightness to the screen and to Siras’s life. Despite having a tough act to follow Rao delivers the passion of a young journalist with utter ease.
An intrusive landlady and a friendly colleague in Debu’s life add some lighter moments to an otherwise sedate narration. But the conversations between Debu and Siras are the real gems. “Kavita shabdo ke beech ki khamoshi mein hoti hai, har koi umr aur paristhiti ke hisaab se uska matlab nikalta hai”, rightly explains the pace of the movie. The story calmly progresses like a non rhythmic poem. It speaks more in its pauses than its dialogues.
The best part about Aligarh remains that instead of singling out homosexuality and painting the whole canvas with just that, it focuses on freedom of individuality in every sense. In a time when there is a constant debate between perceptions of morality and ideas of freedom, Aligarh is a must watch!