Movie Review: Aligarh

Aligarh: Manoj Bajpai all the way…

Till now Homosexuality or gay characters are shown as caricatures in Bollywood, and gay jokes are used more for comic situations and shown in bad light.

Well “Aligarh” changes it once and for all, Hansal Mehta has taken special care in handling a sensitive subject and done a commendable job. “Aligarh” is based on the true events of Dr. Srinivas Ramchandra Siras, a professor and HOD of Department of Modern Indian Languages in Aligarh University. On 8th Feb 2010 two strangers from local news channel of Aligarh barged into Dr Siras’s (Manoj Bajpai) house and made a video of Dr Siras and a rickshaw puller in a compromising position. On 9th Feb 2010, Dr Siras is suspended from Aligarh University for misconduct. A journalist Deepu Sebastian (Rajkumar Rao) after reading this meets Dr Siras and writes the true story of Dr Siras and raises questions on Aligarh University’s suspension of Dr Siras. The article gets people’s attention and an NGO decides to fight the case of Dr Siras against Aligarh University. Dr Siras wins the case on 1st April, 2010 but is found dead in mysterious circumstances on 7th April 2010….aligarh-movie-review

Story written by Ishani Banerjee explores the events Dr Siras from 8th Feb’2010 and chronicles the events there after with utmost sensitivity and care. Her writing is less judgemental and more factual which raises pertinent questions on Sec 377 and right of an individual to choose his/her sexual preference and whether an individual should be victimised for his sexual orientation. The beauty of Ishani’s writing is its characterization, especially of Dr Siras which tries to explore the real Dr Siras and his pathos…

Screenplay by Apurva Asrani takes a step further with narration of the events on screen. But the pace is an issue, which oscillates from being extremely slow to abrupt. The court case is shown more as a background and ends abruptly, I felt some more screen time should have been given to the court proceedings. The other flaw in the screenplay is the relationship of Deepu and Dr Siras was not explored to the fullest. Otherwise the writing does complete justice to the subject and handles it sensitively….

It is Manoj Bajpai who owns the movie and does a spectacular job of Dr Siras, from his demeanour to his body language to way he speaks, everything is spot on. Manoj speaks a thousand words through his eyes. All the pathos and loneliness is depicted brilliantly by Manoj through his eyes, actually you start feeling his pain that is how brilliant he is. Rajkumar Rao as the journalist Deepu Sebastian complements Manoj’s performance with his carefree portrayal of a rookie journalist. Ashish Vidyarthi as the lawyer Ashish Grover makes an impact with his no nonsense portrayal; rather it is good to see Ashish back in Bollywood. The rest of the cast also does a brilliant job…

For a movie to succeed in connecting with the audience it is essential to have the right ensemble cast and I must mention Mukesh Chabra the casting director for getting it RIGHT as far as the casting is concerned for “Aligarh”.

Cinematography of Satya Rai Nagpaul captures the mood perfectly and blends with the narration. Production design by Indranil Chowdhury is apt and you feel as if the movie has been shot in the real locations. Pia Benegal’s costume design gives the right texture to the characters…

Hansal Mehta yet again proves that he is a pro in handling sensitive subjects with élan. The sensitivity in the subject is dealt; it is beyond doubt the best movie on homosexuality. And his combination with Manoj Bajpai definitely a Director actor combo to look out for in the future…

I will go with Three & a Half stars….

Movie Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)


Movie Review Citylights

Citylights : Falls short from being a classic

Citylights re-unites the director actor duo Hansal Mehta & Rajkumar Rao after a superb “Shahid” which won each of them the National Award this year.CityLights

Citylights is an adaptation of 2013 Award winning movie “METRO MANILA” directed by Sean Elllis and Hansal Mehta does complete justice to the original. The story is credited to Sean Ellis the original writer of METRO MANILA; the adapted screenplay is by Ritesh Shah. Ritesh stays true to the original but adapts it to the Indian context of people from smaller towns who migrate to the city of dreams Mumbai expecting to make a better living. Just a piece of advice if you are looking at an entertaining movie then this is definitely not the right choice.

Citylights is the story of Deepak (Rajkumar Rao) and Rakhee (Patralekha) who come to Mumbai from Rajasthan to make a better living but become victim of the shrewd reality of city life. The story by Sean Ellis captures the pathos of a small town guy well in his story and Ritesh’s screenplay captures the nuances well. At times the movie’s pace becomes sluggish especially during song sequences which was unnecessary. Some of the sequences are very well written albeit I felt the climax was a bit hurried and could have been presented well.

It is the performances which make the movie memorable. Rajkumar Rao gives another brilliant performance. His portrayal of Deepak Singh is so realistic that you wonder whether he is really acting. The Dialect to the body language is all up to the mark. Another superb performance is of Manav Kaul who plays Vishnu a friend of Deepak with ulterior motives. After “Kai Po Che” Manav again shows his caliber, this is an actor to look forward to. Sadia Siddique as Vishnu’s wife is good albeit her role is small. Patralekha as Rakhee does show a spark but gets overshadowed by Rajkumar and Manav.

Production Design by Rajat Poddar is realistic. Editing by Apoorva Asrani could have been sharp. Jeet Ganguli’s music is good but does not gel with the narration rather it hampers the pace.

Hansal Mehta’s forte is to get the human emotions bang on and he succeeds in this movie as well but fails a bit in giving it a Thriller edge and finesse in the narration which was the highlight in the original METRO MANILA. I will go with THREE AND A HALF STARS…

Trailer : Citylights

From the National Award winning combination of Director Hansal Mehta and actor Rajkumar Rao comes another heart riveting tale of immigrants from smaller towns to Mumbai to fulfill their dreams….the promo gives an experience of a hard hitting tale….releasing 30th May’14