Category Archives: Film Reviews (Indian)

Reviews of films made in India (from any state, in any language).

Mukti Bhawan (2016)

Mukti Bhawan Review

written by Souranath Banerjee

A movie that probes into the psychology of death, but then also, it’s so full of life!

My Ratings: 4.2/5

Nowadays most of the Hindi films released can deftly be categorised to the limit of some particular genre, and easily conjecturable to a Mukti-Bhawan-poster3certain theme or message or even the complete lack of it!

But then once in a while a few unique films emerge (fortunately) which dare to defy such generalisations, and restrict themselves from spoon-feeding the audience with ponderous morals in-between ceaseless cheesy histrionics.

Yes, Mukti Bhawan is one such film that cannot be bound into one specific keynote, it has to be experienced on the whole, much like an opera, or like life and death!

When 77-year-old retired school-teacher Dayashanker Sharma (Lalit Behl) senses his life’s extremity (the hint being a curious recurring dream), it becomes obligatory for his son Rajiv (Adil Hussain) to comply (though grudgingly) with his old man’s somewhat odd request – an immediate visit to the holy city of Varanasi.

Varanasi, the essential and well utilised backdrop of the film, ordained by the sacred Ganges the ancient Indian city that Mukti-Bhawan-poster4epitomises spiritualism and divinity. And aged Dayashanker believes that death in this holy city can be his ticket to eternal salvation – an escape from the inevitable cycle of life and death!   

And thus, to the surprise of the rest of the family that includes Daya’s daughter-in-law Lata (Geetanjali Kulkarni) and Daya’s grand-daughter Sunita (Palomi Ghosh), Daya and Rajiv, the father-son duo leaves for Varanasi. They finally check in at an aptly named hotel called Mukti Bhawan or Hotel Salvation; where numerous people from all across India come and wait for their death, a tradition to achieve Moksha!

Director Shubhashish Bhutiani, who has also written the script along with Asad Hussain, has ingeniously explored the intricacy of human emotions on the face of death in his film. The script, the situations, the Mukti-Bhawan-posterdialogues, the relations are simply subtle yet so profound!  

UNESCO jury has already awarded the XXIIIrd prix “Enrico Fulchignoni” to the young debutant director and at the Venice Film Festival, the world premier of Mukti Bhawan, the film was cherished by the audience with a stupendous standing ovation after the screening!

Then again, the film is specially blessed with actors who are of such supreme control of their skills.

 Adil Hussain, just within a decade have become one of the finest actors of our country, made his presence felt in acclaimed movies like English VinglishLife of PiParchedSunrise; but in this particular film his performance excels like never before. No wonder he won a Special Mention from the National Award Jury this year!

And of course, the veteran TV and theatre actor Lalit Behl, this being his second film (after Titli) has played his pivotal part with such immense Mukti-Bhawan-poster2commitment, so brilliantly natural and believable!

And then, renowned actress Geetanjali Kulkarni, young and effortless Palomi GhoshNavnindra Behl as the sweet and smiling widow and Anil K. Rastogi as the weird manager of the hotel – all have given their best and are very much responsible for the success of the film!

Mukti Bhawan may be a statement on life and death or it may simply be a very precise discectomy of human relations; I hope you will decide yourself once you watch it.

Mark my words, this is a Cinema that shouldn’t be missed! 

Poster courtesy: facebook.com/muktibhawan

Trapped (2017)

Trapped Review

written by Souranath Banerjee

Up above the sky so high, invisible to the world, you cry, whisper and sigh!   

My Ratings: 4.1/5

When was the last time you were in a spot where there was no food and water – like literally – ultimate survival crisis – and you have to hunt animals for food and go ‘Morarji-Desai’ for your drink?

I know what you will say – that such extreme situations are only for the celluloid; like the shipwrecked Tom Hanks in Cast Away, marooned in an island with no company other than the mute round-faced Wilson; then there was this young James Franco who accidentally put his leg in-between some boulders and sat stuck Trapped-Poster-5alone for 127 Hours. I think WALL·E also did a decent job, forlorned up in the space – but then, he didn’t get much hungry or thirsty, if you know what I mean!

Now what if someone gets ‘trapped’ in an apartment, an ordinary flat in a multystored and otherwise uninhabited building, right in the middle of the concrete urban jungle (say around Mumbai’s Prabhadevi area); cooped up for days, without food, water, phone or electricity, entirely cut off from the outer world – with a birds-eye view of the entire city but still invisible to everyone!

This is exactly what happened to Shaurya (Rajkummar Rao), when he by a twist of fate gets locked inside an apartment in a high-rise, without any hope of ever getting rescued!

Trapped-Poster-1And the most scary part in the film comes from the sensation that it can actually happen to any of us so called ‘city-people’ out here!

Salute to the writers Amit Joshi and Hardik Mehta for such a brilliant idea and script. And then what a marvellous ‘jugalbandhi’ from director Vikramaditya Motwane and performer Rajkummar Rao!

National Award winning actor Rajkummar Rao was outstanding in the film. The combination of Rao’s boy-next-door looks and his brilliant portrayal of someone desperate for survival is what makes the film so real.

And for director Mr.Motwane, with only one character to tell his story, that too pinned in one location, he still managed to successfully Trapped-Poster-3grasp the attention of the audience till the very end!

Another very interesting human psychology portrayed in the film is that, when someone is in the brink of possible extinction, it is the general human tendency to discover an unfamiliar longing for some of the most banal things in their lives.

For example in the film, Shaurya trapped for days, often hallucinating from stress and malnourishment, never desired or yearned for anything particularly unique or remarkable. Rather he wished to relive those regular day to day events; his journey to the office in those overcrowded Mumbai local trains packed with sweaty co-passengers, those crammed up buses with irritating conductors, a simple plate of pav-bhaji with a dash of butter on top – in the time of an inevitable Trapped-Poster-4catastrophe the most ordinary things from our life become so special and desirable!

Geetanjali Thapa, in the short role as the love of Shaurya’s life was commendable, though honestly I thought her character wasn’t really required in the film other than the simple incentive for Shaurya to hunt for a place.

Siddharth Diwan‘s cinematography makes the film look very real while Nitin Baid‘s editing keeps it crisp and to the point. Alokananda Dasgupta‘s music works well, very subtle and used only when required. 

I just thank God, Shaurya has musophobia (fear of rats) and not vertigo (fear of heights), or else, it would have all gone down pretty worse!

Poster courtesy: www.moviescut.com

Maroon (2016)

Maroon review

written by Souranath Banerjee

A disturbingly beautiful psychological thriller!

My Ratings: 3.8/5

Our mind plays all kinds of tricks, often dangerously merging the line between reality and imagination. And we poor mortals, dazed and confused and tortured by our own conscience, desperate to restore some comfort and tranquility. But alas! peace cannot be Maroon-reviewreclaimed that easily.

The story of Professor Saurabh Sharma (Manav Kaul) is one perfect example of such a psychological discord, intensified by his wife gone missing, and he himself being an insomniac doesn’t seem to help either.

Entangled in-between the police officer’s inquisitions and the advancement of a flirtatious student, and also under the influence of the the unending sleeping pills, the professor’s life looks more distorted than ever.

Disturbing? Yes, thank you very much!

Be it the blood-filled bathtub mysteriously clogged by a bundle of human hair or a chopped up human finger under the cabinet, Maroon is a dark and trippy psychological thriller that seems to have it’s roots deeply embedded into our human psyche; stimulated by that part of our unconscious brain that deceives our consciousness, and makes us vulnerable yet so dangerous.

Overall an intelligently made film, based on one single location, entirely interiors. With only a handful of characters writer/director Pulkit Maroon-reviewhave managed to weave an intricate tale of murder, betrayal, love, adultery and insanity!

Superb performance by Manav Kaul, he portrayed the tired and delusional man desperate to find his wife, with enough conviction.

Devyani Cm as the young seductress and Sumeet Vyas the hot-tempered lover-boy are really good but one particular actor needs a special mention, Saurabh Sachdeva playing the character of Inspector. R. Negi was simply brilliant!

Fantastic work by Soumik Mukherjee as the cinematographer and superb music by Sagar Desai.

Produced by Jyotsana Nath, the film Maroon after been showcased in numerous festivals world wide, has been recently released on Netflix!

A very well-made psychological thriller that demands your attention; go watch it!

Parched (2015)

Parched review

written by Souranath Banerjee

Self-empowerment of rural women  – Parched instantly reminded me of Ketan Mehta’s Mirch Masala!  

My Ratings: 4/5.

Seldom issue based films (especially in Bollywood) suffer from striking a balance between telling a story that is both entertaining as well as didactic.

And that is exactly where Leena Yadav‘s remarkable film Parched comes out as a winner!

parched-posterDealing with four rural female characters in the lead – Rani (Tannishtha Chatterjee), Lajjo (Radhika Apte), Bijli (Surveen Chawla) and Janaki (Lehar Khan) and then of course their struggle in a male-dominating society being the core of the film, Parched has done an incredible job in charming the audience, mostly through it’s unapologetic dialogues (thanks to Supratik Sen) that ranges from being real, straightforward to vulgar!   

The film through each of its feminine-character’s remarkable journeys efficiently tackles so many women-oriented social issues like domestic violence, sexual harassment, education, child marriage, dowry, status of the widows, choice of asserting her sexual preferences, fertility prejudices, prostitution, even the importance of rural small-scale businesses and then of course the independence of women on the whole!

parched-poster2

Such powerful acting by everyone in the film but electrifying Radhika Apte surely leads the pack.

Tannishtha Chatterjee also plays a very mature part, probably the most difficult one in the film. Even Surveen Chawla as the prostitute/dancer makes her mark. Riddhi Sen as the young egoistic male, and then Adil Hussain and Sumeet Vyas – all did justice to their roles.

Through the lenses of ace cinematographer Russell Carpenter and the appropriate melodious music by Hitesh Sonik, Parched has definitely managed to tell a fascinating story, most importantly parched-poster1something very different and genuine.

The backdrop being Rajasthan, and essentially dealing with strong women characters, Parched instantly reminded me of Ketan Mehta‘s epic film Mirch Masala (1987).

But i guess the real success of a film like Parched will be when the women of rural India can get to watch it and enjoy as much as the urban multiplex audience did!

Totally worth your time and money.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.comwww.imdb.com.

Pink (2016)

Pink review

written by Souranath Banerjee

Powerful message in Bollywood style, and yet very entertaining!

My Ratings: 4/5.

‘Perfect film for our society boss, aise film aur banne chahiye yaar’ – these were the exact words of a man sitting in front of me in the cinema hall right after the end titles of the film Pink.

According to an Indian Express Article dated at the beginning of this damini-posteryear, the number of rape and molestation cases in India were recently at it’s peak. Unfortunately it’s a known fact.

Inspite of maximum cases not being reported, in Delhi alone last year (2015) there were six cases of rape and 15 cases of molestation registered every day!

Indian filmmakers have been tackling such grave and challenging social issues for a long time now; portraying them in a sensible manner and creating awareness through films like Ankush (1986), Insaf Ka Tarazu (1980), Damini (1993), Dahan (1998), Bawandar (2000), Grahan (2001) and more.

But then, coming back to the latest release Pink, this movie has somehow managed to sum up all the significant problems of our current Indian society and put them raw on a platter. And furthermore the film also succeeds in reminding us that the solution to these problems are very much within us (basically our mind-set) and can be countered only if we realise and act on it.

The story-line doesn’t seem too complicated at the first glance – three independent working-girls Minal, Falak and Andrea (Tapsee PannuKirti Kulhari and Andrea Tariang) get mixed up in a brawl pink-poster1with a group of rich influential guys (Angad BediVijay VarmaRaashul Tandon and Tushar Pandey) who had the intention to sexually harass them. The girls did protest but can they eventually fight back against the corruption and the feudal mentality of our current male-dominated society?

Who will help these girls win their battle for justice? (Hint: an actor named Amitabh Bachchan)

Superb performances by Mr.Bachchan as the cranky lawyer Deepak Sehgal wearing his spooky mask and all, probably one of his best roles in the recent times!

Tapsee Pannu and Kriti Kulhari have also displayed such amazing acting capabilities, subtle yet so natural!

Then of course we have Piyush Mishra as the challenging lawyer
pink-posteragainst Amitabh Bachchan in the dramatic court scenes, always a delight to watch him perform!

Also we have acting stalwarts like Dhritiman Chatterjee and Mamta Shankar in brief yet important roles.

But according to me the true success of Pink is not because of the film’s overall brilliance in the acting department; the real heroes are the writer Ritesh Shah and of course the director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury who has managed to balance such a sensitive topic so well. 

Shantanu Moitra‘s music perfectly complements the film while Shoojit Sircar rocks the show as the creative producer.

A few unnecessary dramatisations and distractions here and there, but overall pink is a film that connects to the audience and shoots it’s message across from a point blank range.

Go watch it.

Poster courtesy: www.bollywoodmdb.com

Sarbjit (2016)

Sarbjit review

written by Souranath Banerjee

A story so powerful yet disturbing, an emotional biographical tale told in Bollywood style, that promises to wring your soul to it’s full potential!

My Ratings: 4/5.

In the year 1990, Sarabjit Singh, an Indian by nationality, a farmer from Bhikiwind, Punjab, (a village located by the Indo-Pak border) SARABJIT-SINGH-POSTERcrossed the border my mistake and strayed into Pakistan.

He was captured by the Pakistani Army/Police and was wrongfully convicted of spying and terrorism.

Sarabjit was tortured and made to surrender himself as Manjit Singh (the real terrorist in question) and was also compelled to confess on crimes that included a series of bomb blasts in Lahore and Faisalabad. And soon enough he was dutifully condemned by the Supreme Court of Pakistan and sentenced to death for crimes he never committed! 

Though his sentence (death by hanging) was postponed for several years by the government of Pakistan, but unfortunately in-between the political rivalry between two neighboring countries an sarbjit-poster-3innocent life was sacrificed and his family ruined for ever.

Now obviously this biopic Sarbjit is based on this unfortunate man’s life but interestingly enough the film is told more from the perspective of Sarbjit’s sister Dalbir Kaur.

Dalbir Kaur (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), a lady of true courage and determination who gave her entire life fighting for her brother’s freedom! And then of course there is Sarbjit’s wife, Sukhpreet Kaur (Richa Chadha) and their daughters Swapandeep and Poonam Kaur who stood by Dalbir and was devoted to Sarbjit through out his life. 

The film has such a powerful story that needs to be told and I must say director Omung Kumar have done justice to it. A few unnecessary sarbjit-poster-4songs here and there (though melodious), a few over-emotional dialogues (typical Bollywood style), but overall the film is a sincere attempt to portray the terror, agony and injustice that a man and his family had to endure for no reason at all.

Aishwarya has done a pretty good job being the heartbroken sister with a resolution, though I felt she was not the perfect choice for Dalbir Kaur’s role, somehow maybe she was a bit less Punjabi in comparison to the other actors.

At least better than Priyanka Chopra being casted as a Manipuri boxer, but again in India, stardom plays a huge role behind a film’s success – right?

Richa Chadha again proved herself as an exceptionally talented sarbjit-poster-5actress; through her body language and even in the rare moments of silence she managed to convey a lot of unspoken emotions.

But trust me, the real star of the film is none other than Randeep Hooda

Such a versatile actor and a power house of talent; specially in the jail-scenes in the second half of the film, it is a real treat to watch him perform.  

Darshan Kumaar has a brief but interesting role and he did make his presence felt.

A good script, superb acting and most importantly a great ‘true’ story to tell – Sarbjit is a film definitely worth a watch.

No surprise that the Censor board of Pakistan has banned the film as ‘anti-Pakistani’! 

Poster courtesy: www.bollywoodmdb.com

Nil Battey Sannata (2015)

Nil Battey Sannata review

written by Souranath Banerjee

An issue based film double dipped in a cup of sweet mother-daughter-emotions, and it’s totally worth your time!

My Ratings: 4.1/5.

Stardom in Bollywood always guarantees a mega box-office collection but what if, you are in a mood to tell some decent humane tale through a film of real values and quality?

Well, for that all you need is a couple of brilliant actors like Swara Bhaskar and Riya Shukla, a director with a vision similar to Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari and an awesome story like Nil Battey Sannata!

Yes, a highly anticipated film (among the non-comercial cinema
Nil-battey-sannata-reviewlovers) Nil Battey Sannata is finally released and it’s superbly entertaining, very emotional and most importantly a film that perfectly resonates our society.

A young mischievous girl Apeksha aka Appu studying for her 10th class board exams, when asked about her future career plans replies to her mom Chanda (who by profession is a ‘bai’ or house maid) –

‘Ek engenier ka beta engenier banta hai, ek doctor ka beta doctor, toh bai ki beti kyaa banegi?’

Now this particular line though delivered in casually by a girl says a lot about our current Indian society. It portrays the general mentality of a kid coming from a family below the poverty line whose dreams to become a doctor, engineer or collector is automatically restrained and are forced to be moulded according to their financial/social status.

Nil-battey-sannata-reviewThe film makes us question that being a single mother and that too from a poor financial background, is it too ambitious for Chanda (Swara Bhaskar) to dream a better future for her beloved daughter Appu (Riya Shukla)?

Though the film essentially revolves around the social issue of education and it’s importance in our community (especially for the women) but the real brilliance of Nil Battey Sannata comes from the  unique relationship between a mother who sacrifices her life’s happiness to give her daughter a decent education and her daughter who being too immature and naive doesn’t able to value her mother’s sacrifice (or so it seems to be).

Nil Battey Sannata though predictable at times has been made with great care and sensitivity, and it does manage to pull the right strings Nil-battey-sannata-reviewto make the audiences all chocked up and teary-eyed by the end.

And then, the superlative acting by Swara Bhaskar (she has always been my favorite and a real performer)Ratna Pathak (sheer perfection)Pankaj Tripathy (brilliantly funny), Riya Shukla (immense potential) and a couple of other child actors – such exclusive natural performances are the real reason for the film’s success.

It ends with a dialogue about achieving your dreams that instantly reminds us of The Pursuit of Happyness, but then Nil Battey Sannata is definitely a film to watch and get inspired from.

If you like good films with simple human sentiments – don’t miss it.

Poster courtesy: www.bollywoodmdb.com

The Jungle Book (2016)

The Jungle Book review

written by Souranath Banerjee

For some, this film will remain as a happy childhood memory and for others, it’s simply a nostalgia! 

My Ratings: 4.1/5.

The incredible story based on the jungles of India comes first hand for the Indian audience as The Jungle Book gets its release in India one week before any other country of the world!

jungle-book-poster4The heroic survival tale of an abandoned “man cub”  Mowgli, a wild kid in an underwear who can easily converse with all the wild animals in the forest!

And why not, since he has been parented by the wolves, Akela (the alpha male wolf-pack leader) and Raksha (the sensitive mother wolf), and then, Mowgli’s best buddies are none other than Bagheera (the protective black panther) and Baloo (the lazy mischievous bear)!

Mowgli’s life is mostly all fun and adventures unless he ends up face to face with Kaa (the hypnotic python) or King Louie (the power hungry orangutan, the King of the apes), but then, there is someone who doesn’t want a man-child in the jungle, the notorious Shere Khan (the one-eyed evil tiger) who desire to eat Mowgli alive!

All our favorite characters leaping straight out from the pages of Rudyard Kipling‘s collective fables (novel), and this time they are not jungle-book-poster7mere cartoons (as our childhood memories made us believe), but they are all dramatically alive and unbelievably realistic in this brilliant CGI drama.

A confession though (most probably a collective confession of all  those who were lucky enough to enjoy their childhood in the 90s); my instant recognition of the ever-popular character Mowgli and his friends neither comes from Kipling’s famous novel nor from the original Disney animated classic masterpiece The Jungle Book (1967).

It’s actually connected with the Japanese Anime television series called ‘Janguru Bukku shonen Môguri’ which was later dubbed in Hindi as ‘The Jungle Book’ and was aired on the one and only Indian channel of the time Doordarshan way back in 1993.

Ah! those lazy Sunday mornings and the unforgettable title song composed by none other than Vishal Bhardwaj and written by Gulzar!

And the impact of that TV series is the sole reason for me to watch the latest Disney Jungle Book film in Hindi!  – probably the first time ever I have intentionally seen a Hindi dubbed version of an English film and it’s totally worth it.

Fortunately this time, it’s not just a stiff translation but the jungle-book-poster6Hindi dialogues has been specially written by Mayur Puri and the Hindi voice-over artists are also the top in their business, Nana Patekar as Shere Khan, Priyanka Chopra as Kaa, Irrfan Khan as Baloo, Om Puri as Bagheera and Shefali Shetty as Raksha.

But keeping aside the nostalgic memories, the film directed by Jon Favreau is in itself a triumph!  

Visually stunning cinematography by Bill Pope and perfectly complimented by John Debney‘s music.

The young debutant actor Neel Sethi has done a great job playing the central character but the most astonishing feat is undoubtedly the computer graphics used to create the hyperrealistic animals and the jungle-book-poster8locations, the exceptional quality achieved by the combined effort of the studios Weta Digital, MPC and Digital Domain.

The film although it narrates the same old story but overall it’s a much darker version of the original tale; some intense violent moments and chilling chase sequences that makes the film frightfully dramatic (specially from a kid’s perspective).

Make no mistake this film in India is Certified as ‘U/A’ and for the right reasons too.

But then, the success of yet another version of The Jungle Book only confirms our love for Mowgli, a character so unique and universally acknowledged as Edgar Rice Burroughs‘s Tarzan, and also that the adorable wolf-raised-kid will always have a special place in the hearts of the Indian audience!

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com

Natsamrat (2016)

Natsamrat review

written by Souranath Banerjee

Marathi Cinema and Nana Patekar both at their best form.

My Ratings: 4.2/5.

Maharashtra is one of the very few states which has managed to enrich the tradition of theatre in India through all these decades of Natsamrat-poster2our ever-increasing love for Cinema.

Then again, the accessibility, the flow of money, the immense popularity/fame and the ability to create the impossible – all being in favor of Cinema, could theatre ever compete with the popularity of a film?

Probably not, but keeping aside the Theatre Vs Cinema debate for another time, let’s acknowledge the fact that screenplays which are essentially based on significant dramas have always given birth to films of great quality and popularity!

The play A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams was later Natsamrat-poster5made into a popular movie by Elia Kazan by the same name, then the drama Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee was successfully adopted for the screen by director Mike Nichols, the legendary film Throne of Blood by Akira Kurosawa is a direct adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and George Bernard Shaw‘s ‘Pygmalion’ transformed into My Fair Lady by acclaimed director George Cukor.

All exceptional films built upon extraordinary plays from all across the world!

And recently, reputed Indian film maker Mahesh Manjrekar made a film Natsamrat (language Marathi), adopted from an iconic Marathi play Natsamrat-poster1of the 70s by the same name, written by famous Marathi play-writer Kusumagraj.

Interestingly, this remarkable film is not only special for it’s theatre adaptation but then, Natsamrat itself is a tribute to the grand tradition of Marathi theatre!

An aging theatre artist Ganpat Ramchandra Belwalkar (Nana Patekar), versatile and renowned, takes his leave from the stage and expects to lead a peaceful retired life with his devoted wife and caring children (and their extended family) but soon finds out that with growing age and fading popularity nothing remains the same as expected.

In between the articulate poems and the priceless extracts from many famous plays, the film masterfully brings out the emotional Natsamrat-poster3story of an aged couple who has become a nuisance to their own children, a mere botheration and a reason of embarrassment   in their modern lifestyle.

Then again, the film is also a celebration of friendship, of human relations, bondings, emotions and pure empathy.

But of course, the prime reason to watch Natsamrat is none other than Nana Patekar and his exceptional performance.

Like everybody else, I have been admiring Nana Patekar as a class Natsamrat-poster4actor in many of his earlier films like Ab Tak ChhappanParinda, his recent Hemalkasa and even his over enthusiastic character in Krantiveer but with this role as the ‘Natsamrat’ he has given his lifetime best.

And very well supported by Medha ManjrekarVikram GokhaleMrinmayee Deshpande, Sunil Barve and others, the overall acting standard is superbly maintained.

Great music by Ajit Parab (who also acted in the film) and cinematographers Ajith V. Reddy and V. Ajith Reddy needs a special mention for their camera work.

Natsamrat is a film that not only makes Marathi Cinema proud but it is undoubtedly one of the best Indian films of recent times.

Go watch it, it’s totally worth it.    

Poster courtesy: marathistars.com

Aligarh (2015)

Aligarh review

written by Souranath Banerjee

A cinema not just about gay rights, it’s about humanity. 

My Ratings: 4.2/5.

On the night of 8 February 2010, two men forced their way into a house in Aligarh where two adult people were having consensual sex. These hired goons who later claimed to be from a TV channel, took pictures and videos while illegally invading the privacy of aligarh-poster-1someone’s bedroom, and in the process humiliating and even beating up the residents.

It was the house of Dr. Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras, and he was ambushed by these local TV-channel camera crew while having sex with a rickshaw puller; gay sex to be specific.

And effectively the very next day, the 64 year old professor Dr. Siras, specializing in Marathi literature and also the head of the Department of Modern Indian Languages at Aligarh Muslim University, was suspended from his post because of his illicit misconduct resulting to such a scandal.

Fortunately such an act of atrocity, discrimination and injustice was noticed and denounced by those few, who still believe in terms like justice and equality. With the help of efficient lawyers a case was filed against the University and eventually the verdict was in favor of Dr. Siras. But probably, the man was too heart broken to enjoy his victory.

aligarh-poster-3The film Aligarh is a sincere account of Dr. Siras’s life; a calm and composed man by nature, a poet who won the literary award by Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad in 2002. He loved to listen to Lata Mangeshkar songs with a few many drinks at night till he gets drunk.

And Manoj Bajpayee as Dr. Siras has given the performance of a lifetime. Such emotions in his eyes, the way he talks in a slow intellectual manner, his overall body language, even the way he moves his feet enjoying the song ‘Aap Ki Nazron Ne Samjha’ in Lata Mangeshkar’s voice – pure brilliance! 

Rajkummar Rao surely did support Bajpayee very well, the young reporter’s role was rewardless yet so important from the film’s perspective. Ashish VidyarthiSumit GulatiDilnaz Irani all were at their best. 

Almost 2 hours of screen time, slow paced, long single takes,  aligarh-poster-2emotional and brutally honest; the sheer authenticity and conviction of storytelling is enough to make this biopic a special one.

And exceptionally well directed by Hansal Mehta (this is even better than Mehta’s earlier two triumphs Shahid and City Lights).  

Based on the last two months of a man who was the victim of the university campus politics, framed by his own colleagues out of utter jealousy, a man whose life was turned upside down just because he was a homosexual.

‘I spent two decades here. I love my University. I have always loved it and will continue to do so no matter what. But I wonder if they have stopped loving me because I am gay’

Dr. Siras was a man who loved his life and expected to be loved back.

The film Aligarh has managed to keep alive his sentiments, it has the same poetic feel that so resembles Dr. Siras’s nature.

Poster courtesy:  www.bollywoodmdb.comwww.goldposter.com