Aligarh - Review

wogma rating: Watch when on TV (?)
quick review:

It is an important film. It is a courageous film even. The film does some things really well. But, it isn't necessarily an absorbing one.

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Have you ever put your favorite music on, hummed along with it, and entered the world that the melodies have created for you? Have you swayed your fingers and tapped your feet to the rhythm? So does Prof. Siras. Prof. Siras is also gay. Why do you need to know that? How is it relevant? It is not. And that is the point that Aligarh tries to make. They are human and the differences between them and other humans are nothing to create hue and cry about. However, can you really not do that without doing it? Can you say something is not worth giving undue attention to without bringing attention to it? And that is a trap that Aligarh falls into. Why try so hard to keep away from something that all you can do is get drawn to it? In this case – not becoming a gay rights activism story.

Aligarh tries to be about 'gay professor suspended' with focus on the 'professor', the person rather than the 'gay' part. This by itself is commendable because thus far Hindi films have either turned homosexuality into mockery or taken it too seriously. Aligarh tries its best to let homosexuality just be. That itself is worth a few rounds of applause.

However then, you have the romantic pauses which stay long enough to become over-romanticised. Again, attention is drawn to them, almost as if saying, “if we don't say it, you will miss the subtlety.” Aah..the irony. Is it good because it is better than a joke being explained in a slapstick comedy?

This once Hansal Mehta adds a touch of humor and lightness to the subject too. The hookah-smoking 'aunty' and the quirkiness that she brings along. The energy that comes with Deepu (Rajkummar Rao). Almost as if in response to feedback – your films are too serious. I am joking. The fact that the youth can make a difference if they care enough while living their lives comes through clearly. This even for matters that aren't relevant to them directly.

Rajkummar Rao does brilliantly to bring this through too. His performance is almost taken for granted because of the meek and subdued character Manoj Bajpai plays with such elegance. You know the blushing, nervous, anxious, angry, lonely facets of boring Prof. Siras because - Manoj Bajpai.

Even so, the film becomes stagnant after a while. It is not because of lack of action, because the case is interesting. It is not because of the lingering pauses, because the pace is set from frame one and you know it is going to be a lot about silences. It is about some decisions that didn't quite work. For example, was it important to have brought out Deepu's sexual orientation? It is also about repetitions. Sure, the same sequence is shown with a little additional information. But, that extra isn't weighty enough to warrant a repetition making the film seem stagnant.

It is an important film. It is a courageous film even. The film does some things really well. But, it isn't necessarily an absorbing one.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: A man being beaten up.
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: It is about a man being caught while having sex with a man. Though no explicit visuals as such.
  • Concept: Man is suspended from his job because of his sexual orientation

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 3
  • Story: 3.5
  • Lead Actors: 5
  • Character Artists: 5
  • Dialogues: 3.5
  • Screenplay: 3
  • Music Director:
  • Lyrics:

Aligarh - Movie Details

Aligarh - Trailer

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Comments (7)

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kawkaw:

Homosexuality is an issue not often discussed in India. But of late it has been in media quite a lot especially since 2010 when the Delhi High Court read down the controversial section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which seeks to criminalize same sex acts and then in 2013 when the same was overturned by the Supreme Court of India.

Fan:

Homosexuality is a delicate issue worldwide. USA for instance.

India unfortunately is run by a minority left leaning population who like to believe that they are liberals and intellectuals. Whereas the reality is far from that. India would be on the way to becoming the only country in the world where a hugely minor percentage of population will decide the fate of gays. Every other democracy who crosses this bridge does so on the basis of public referendum and not based on the whims and fancies of a select few.

Riya:

Rajkummar Rao, Manoj Bajpai has played very nice role in this movie. Different story shown. Nice movie.

Fan:

Sometimes a movie comes along and shakes your beliefs. I would put Aligarh in that category. Apart from the attempt to sensationalise the film towards the end it's very difficult to find faults.

The dialogues even though simple linger on like the taste of a delicious dish that one just savoured.

You guys use the word "love" so loosely. It's a magnificent word but you make it sound vulgar.

Too good.

Lack of background score adds to the story, surprisingly.

More than the issue of homosexuality that will invariably divide opinions i believe that the issue of "respecting one's privacy" is more important to debate.

Performance wise Manoj Bajpayee once again proves that he is one of the finest actors around. Rajkumar Rao continues his fabulous collaboration with Hansal Mehta with yet another important act.

Overall a treat to watch.

Fan:

[Again, attention is drawn to them, almost as if saying, “if we don't say it, you will miss the subtlety.” ]

@Meeta: I had not seen it with that interpretation. But now that you say it, probably it is true. I just thought whilst watching the film that they wanted to gradually immerse the viewer into the sensitive scene - and so rather than having a full blown 10 minute shot they preferred to split it over several shorter shots.

Where I certainly have a different interpretation than you is regarding the sexual orientation of Deepu. I not even for once thought that they were trying to establish his sexual interpretation. My thoughts were more on the "respecting one's privacy" angle, where Deepu's thoughts are probably on how a similar situation played out between homosexuals would draw a totally different look from accidental strayer into the scene vis-à-vis the looks (or in case of metros even apathy) that it would generate in the same accidental strayer into a heterosexual encounter. Thus it was more trying to contrast the perceptions between homo and hetero behaviours - in my opinion.

Fan:

** sexual orientation ** (not sexual interpretation)

meeta:

@Fan Yet again an example of how different viewers take away different things from the same movie (or paintings or books). It never stops to amaze me.

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