By Amrik Chakraborty
I watched Aligarh four years back. I wanted to write about it since then but didn’t have the apt words. Yesterday I was re-watching it and was again spellbound by it. The writing pattern of Aligarh, at least what I have inferred, is really great if you delve into it.
Let me start by the basic plot of the movie based on a true incident, the movie dives deep into the life of Prof. Ramchandra Siras after a sting operation that is carried out on him, on the grounds of which, he was suspended from Aligarh University. He was caught making love to another man. Now I personally do not like summarizing the plot especially for movies like Aligarh, but just for the sake of giving you guys an idea. The film is more than just another social cause. It poses important questions about the issue, yes! But it pays different attention Prof. Siras. He is a quiet, vulnerable, shy person, doesn’t like to open up. He doesn’t want to get involved, he doesn’t want to fight or protest, he doesn’t belong anywhere. In a beautiful scene, Siras is humming along with the song “Aap Ki Nazron Ne Samjha, Pyaar Ke Kaabil Mujhe”, Bajpayee’s facial expressions are enough to convey what Siras must have felt. He is tired, of everything. And the swinging of his foot to the rhythm of the song tells us that he wants to surrender himself but can’t as the shackles of the world around is stopping him, beautifully summed up by the line “Ji Humein Mazoor Hain, Aapka Yeh Faisla”. Such a great character study it is. He doesn’t want to belong to any community. When he looks around at the scenario of LQBTQ+ activists protesting for his justice, it can be clearly seen on his face that he cannot fathom the necessity of it, he is perplexed. He doesn’t want to be termed as gay, he says, when the activists approach him, most probably because it makes him somehow feel different. He wants to be treated as just another human being. In a scene with Deepu (played brilliantly by Rao), he explains how we have complicated and polluted love by encrusting it with definitions and how love is such a beautiful word. Even in the courtroom sequences, we can see Siras in the back, in his own world, writing something, as the lawyers continue to argue for and against him.
Coming back to the writing and direction of the film. As the film starts, we see Prof.Siras on a rickshaw in a quiet and empty road. The camera follows them to an apartment where the rickshaw stops and so does the camera, from now on camera acts like any other person watching the whole scene from outside. The rickshaw walla, Irrfan and Prof. get to the room, after some time, we see two men entering the apartment, we hear some loud noises, some cries and that’s it. We don’t know what has happened clearly. The next shot is a close up of Siras sitting in his underwear, in a dark room, inside his house. The filmmakers’ way of welcoming us to this tale and asserting that we will be witnessing the events as an insider now. But they need a medium, that medium is Deepu, Deepu is us, the audience. The movies start with the aftermath of the incident, revealing us moments from that night in crucial times, as Deepu investigates and Siras recalls. This works brilliantly to expose the blatant truth and to infuriate the audience.
One of my favorite scenes from the movie is a sequence where Deepu and his Editor Namita are taking a casual walk and having a conversation alone and that leads up to them making out. Suddenly there is cut to the past where Siras his making love to Irrfan. The writer’s way of saying that it is as natural as a girl and a boy making love to each other, a human making to love another human.
In a situation where people are protesting against a man and for a man, for his rights, the only thing that man strives for is a few moments of happiness, a few moments of solace.
•Directed by- Hansal Mehta•
•Screenplay by- Apurva Asrani
•Written by- Apurva Asrani
•Cinematography- Satya Rai Nagpaul•
•Edited by- Apurva Asrani•