Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh tells the story of Professor Siras, a gay faculty member of an Indian University prosecuted and persecuted for his sexuality. It stars Manoj Bajpayee (Satya) as Professor Siras, and Rajkummar Rao (Queen) as a journalist who interviews him after his headline-grabbing suspension. It was released in India on February 26, 2016.
Ironically the movie is unofficially banned in Aligarh, the city that lends the film its name. Speaking with journalist Subhash K. Jha, Hansal Mehta (CityLights) said about the ban, “It was most unexpected. It just proves that what the film is saying: that Aligarh is a homophobic city.” The film itself was not permitted to shoot in Aligarh and the filmmakers were threatened.
Prominent Bollywood writer Javed Akhtar voiced his opinion on the unofficial ban by saying, “Democracy has no meaning without freedom of expression”. Writing for “Youth ki Awaaz”, Rohini Banerjee said about the film, “‘Aligarh‘ raises some harrowing, important questions–about the right to privacy, the right to dignity of an LGBTQ person.” In India, a bill decriminalizing homosexuality was rejected by the parliament last year.
Mehta previously helmed Shahid, which received a small U.S. release in late 2013. Aligarh screened at the BFI London Film Festival as well as the Mumbai Film Festival last year and has since opened in both India and Australia. Currently the film has no set release set in the United States.
The trailer for Aligarh with English subtitles is available below.