Professor Siras is a 64 year old man who teaches Marathi at Aligarh Muslim University. He is shown living a very solitary lonely life busy listening to his favourite singer’s old classic songs. As part of the sting operation, he is caught and filmed having sex with a rickshaw-puller from worker class and is subsequently suspended from his position in the university just 4 years before he is supposed to retire from the university. Deepu, is a budding journalist, and when he reads this whole story, wants to help the professor. After initial misunderstanding, he finally manages to strike a bond with the professor; something that starts as a professional bond but eventually becomes that of friends. His story after listening to professor’s version becomes sensational and country-wide protests start. One of the most famous lawyers who represented common people for Section 377 decides to represent Dr. Siras for his case. The case against the university goes for a few months, but they finally win and his suspension orders are revoked. However, he never resumed his post as he was found dead, days after the court gave verdict in his favour.
Manoj Vajpayee as Prof Siras is unbelievably good in the film. His discomfort on being labelled ‘gay’ shows he just believes in people. He would also rather feel what ‘love’ is rather than telling if he was in love with the rickshaw-puller. But the film is beyond the debate of whether this is a gay issue or not. As highlighted by Deepu’s character, it is a case of violation of human privacy and basic human rights. Who defines what constitutes morale? The film moves with a very simple narrative, poetic and slow; so please be patient while watching it. When the professor says that “The poetry is in the silences between words; their meaning depends on the age and situation one is in”; the statement reflects the mood and the film that the makers were trying to make. Despite serious subject, the film does have a few lighter moments. I loved the fact that it wasn’t shown all at once on what happened at the sting operation. The film returns repeatedly to the pivotal opening sequence in which Siras' privacy is invaded, and each replay reveals crucial additional details and perspectives. And as a viewer, that’s what makes you angry at all those people because you don’t want something like this to happen to anyone. Kudos to Manoj Vajpayee to take up this role and do more than just justice. He fills the depths of the understated but intensely moving drama with genuine, unsettling emotion.
Unlike Bollywood’s stereotype of the loud, floral-loving homosexual, Aligarh very sensitively champions their cause. An important film powered by sensitive writing and masterful performances. Definitely worth a watch. (8.5/10)