Aligarh: A film about India’s attitude towards homosexuality

By Kiran Rai Friday, March 11, 2016 - 19:00
Director Hansal Mehta made the film Aligarh to portray taboos around homosexuality in India. Kiran Rai reviews the film for Love Matters India.

Responsibility of our society

Aligarh is the first Bollywood film to raise serious questions about homosexuality in Indian society. Is homosexuality illegitimate? Does our society have the right to offend people in homosexual relationships? Does our constitution allow us to raise questions about any citizen’s private life?

This film opens up all the moral and immoral implications of our society’s stance towards same-sex relationships.

Need to change our minds

The film is based on a true story. Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras, professor at a prominent university in Aligarh, is suspended on charges of acts of homosexuality within the campus. Manoj Bajpayee comfortably slips himself into the role of a 64-year-old gay professor who enjoys his solitude with soulful music. This life-changing event leads to him feeling lonely and humiliated. Bajpayee is shown struggling on his own in his small living room, listening to the songs he loves most.  


The professor’s daily struggles are meant to take the audience on an emotional journey. However, some audience members at the cinema hall found his trauma ridiculous and decided to laugh and make imprudent jokes and comments. It was disheartening to see a real, undeserved and irrational struggle on screen and on the other hand, an unacceptable reaction towards it.

Not a scandal, but a true story

The film takes a curve when Rajkumar Rao, who plays a newspaper reporter, learns about Siras and his plight. His sensible and honest reporting brings light to the issue of morality and right to privacy in our society. He also develops an emotional bond with the professor.

Bajpayee doesn’t fail to impress with impactful dialogues on love and relationships. He silently disregards society’s prejudice against his feelings for another man and doesn’t end up portraying a stereotypical gay man.

The film comes to a touching end when the court rules in favour of Siras. His case was also considered instrumental in the High Court’s decision to scrap section 377 back in 2009.

Towards the end

I feel it is our responsibility to accept everyone and not humiliate anyone for who they choose to love. The film also teaches us the same.

With an ongoing debate in the country regarding homosexuality, it is pertinent to raise our voice and lend support through different channels. If you want to understand homosexuality in India better, you must watch the film today.

*The views expressed in the article don’t necessarily reflect Love Matters’ editorial stance.

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