“Oh dear moon,
Fear not the dawn that separates us,
For we must meet again,
When the world sleeps.”
Late author, linguist and professor Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras wrote these lines for his poem Grass Under My Feet to describe the loneliness of a man looking at the full moon, yearning for his lover.
“The full moon represents a gay lover,” he told Indian Express scribe Deepu Sebastian Edmond in an interview dated 2010.
And yet, the feeling described in the poem is universal, one which any person can relate to.
If love be poetry, then director Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh is a perfect interpretation of it. It questions deeply and poignantly shades of morality we attach to feelings.
Writers Apurva Asrani and Ishani Banerjee tell Siras’ story with a lot of warmth and heart. Mehta finely crafts the professor’s fight for dignity with a humane touch — mundane sequences transform his life into extraordinary cinematic moments.
Manoj Bajpai brings Mehta’s vision and Siras to life with another tour de force performance. The man spins magic on a chair, drinking and humming a Lata Mangeshkar classic Aap ki nazron ne samjha with remarkable flair. Or simply by dozing off in court while his lawyers fight his case. Or self-consciously posing for a selfie with supporter Deepu, wonderfully played by Rajkummar Rao. Bajpai makes you feel the struggle of a 60+ professor who won his dignity but lost his fight with humanity.
As with Siras’ book Paya Khalchi Hirawal, the stature and beauty of Aligarh lies in its graceful soul. With quiet, unhurried pace, it hits hard and raises significant questions.
Take a bow, Aligarh team, and thank you.
cinemaspotter rating: 5 out of 5