Aligarh releases in theatres tomorrow, but a few reviews of the film are out already. Check out some reviews.
Aligarh Review by Bollywood Hungama
ALIGARH boasts of a wonderful and heartfelt screenplay Apurva Asrani (who has also written the story). One has to give it to him for handling an extremely sensitive topic in the most sensible manner. The film sees the no holds barred directorial prowess of Hansal Mehta, who has handled the film in an extremely skilful manner. Thanks to his direction, the film gets translated into a mixed bag of emotions such as fearless, captivating, moving and heart-breaking one. While the film has an extremely engaging first half, the second half sees the film losing its grip mainly due to its slow pace and starts looking disjointed. Many things remain unexplained which may confuse the audience.
Aligarh Review by Tushar P Joshi on Bollywood Life
Aligarh is more than just a film about gay rights. It documents the human spirit, and the freedom it struggles to sustain despite its oppressive surroundings. Aligarh is a story of hope and innocence in a time when prejudice and judgement substitutes compassion and kindness. Yes, it is also a story of gay rights, but more so it is a tale of human rights. Mehta has used Siras as a metaphor to highlight optimism in a time of a pessimistic environment. There are moments in the film where you feel more than just empathy and compassion for Siras.
Aligarh Review by Sonia Chopra on Sify
Mehta’s sure-footed storytelling is enhanced by the technical finesse, from the cinematography and editing, to the production design and music. Watch the film to experience a story that is as searing as it is sensitive. Most crucially, the film ensures that the absurdity of a law criminalizing homosexuality hits home harder than ever.
Aligarh Review by Jaidev Hemmady on Movietalkies
Hansal Mehta had delivered a winner with his last film Shahid and Aligarh too deserves a standing ovation. Mehta has taken the story of Siras and made it about human rights and not just about homosexuality, for which, he should be lauded. Moreover, Mehta has done it without getting preachy, which is another feather that he should add to his hat. Aligarh is a true ‘David versus Goliath’ story and has been treated with utmost sincerity and sensitivity. However, this is not to say that the film doesn’t have its faults. The plot moves at a slow pace and the courtroom scenes when Siras challenges the decision of the University to suspend him, are bereft of any intensity or drama (Not that we were expecting some tareekh pe tareekh histrionics, but the court scenes could have been more gripping). Nevertheless, Aligarh is definitely worth a watch for the powerful performances and the sincere treatment of a sensitive story.
Aligarh Review by Sweta Kaushal on Hindustan Times
Unlike Bollywood’s stereotype of the loud, floral-loving homosexual, Aligarh champions a very sensitive side of the country’s third gender. Mehta’s unusual hero takes special efforts to emphasise the fact that everyone is entitled to their sexual preference and should enjoy the freedom to love. He defies labels and often tells Deepu that we should stop trying to categorise everything and everyone.
Review by Saibal Chatterjee on NDTVMovies
Aligarh is equal parts a powerful character study, an incisive social commentary, a tragedy of harrowing proportions and a cautionary parable about a society rife with contradictions. The story, an introductory disclaimer asserts, is inspired by real events modified on the basis of related media reports and legal proceedings.
Review by Shubha Shetty-Saha on Mid-Day India
Mehta, who earlier gave us the gritty Shahid (2012), is evidently at his best when he brings true stories to life and, in his own way, fights against the injustice meted out to the protagonists. Thankfully, Mehta, for most part, doesn’t get carried away by the emotions attached to such a subject, and presents it as starkly as he can. The only time the script (by Asrani) and the director falter is in a scene where they try to gain respect for the poetic professor’s sexual encounter by calling it ‘love’. As if these men who are rooting for sexual freedom are still not ready to accept sex as just a necessity and not necessarily an act attached to the feelings of the heart. The meandering, slow pace largely works for the film, but sometimes works against it.
Aligarh Review by Indiaglitz
The movie is bit slow in its narration and drags in the second half. Many scenes could have been trimmed down as they were perfect for the film festivals but not for the ordinary audience. There are few unconvincing scenes which dilutes the impact of the film, especially in its finale. Also, the movie tends to be bit preachy and repetitive in the second half making it look bit boring at times.
Review by Renuka Vyavahare on The Times Of India
Some films cease to be a story or a mere depiction of an incident or an issue. You live them. They mirror the society’s mindset and in doing so, rake out your own prejudices. Aligarh is one such biographical drama that tugs at your heartstrings.
Review by Manisha Lakhe on Nowrunning
Rajkummar Rao is really good as a gentle but persistent journalist who thinks Professor Siras’s story is more human interest than just a scandal. Ashish Vidyarthi as the lawyer who defends the professor does a wonderful job as well. But there’s only a shrieky woman lawyer and four silent professors who are the all-powerful enemy, and they are weakest link of the movie. Their outraged morality logic does not come across as menacing at all. The fact that they manipulated the system, that they paid the tv crew to do the ‘dirty’, does not come across, rendering the enemy weak. But every flaw goes unnoticed because of Manoj Bajpayee’s superlative performance. He makes you smile, feel elated, lost, alone, and sad and you bring it all back home… hoping some of the ancient laws will change some day soon.
Review by IANS on Zeenews
Mounted with moderate production values, Satya Rai Nagpaul’s camera work is steady and remarkable. His frames are realistic. With his wide angle lenses and tight close-ups, he artistically captures the claustrophobic space and the fine nuances of Manoj’s haunting performance. Karan Kulkarni’s soulful background score is well-layered in the narration. There are a few edit jerks in Apurva Asrani’s editing but this could probably be due to censor issues. Overall, Hansal Mehta’s direction touches a raw nerve and makes you embrace the film wholeheartedly.
Review by Shubhra Gupta on Indian Express
And it carries ‘Aligarh’, especially when Manoj Bajpayee transcends himself, and gives us a man trying to deal with pain and humiliation with dignity. Rao’s youthful ebullience is an effective counter, his Malayalam- inflected Hindi just right. It is a pleasure to see these actors interact. The newsroom doesn’t feel as real as it should, though (for that, please watch ‘Spotlight’, which gets it spot-on): those portions are off-key. I also missed seeing Siras’s relationship with his students : or, seeing the perfunctory nature of the department of Marathi that Siras heads at the Aligarh Muslim University (everyone in the film carefully leaves out the ‘Muslim’ whenever the name comes up), did he have any to speak of? Did he leave his native Maharashtra to seek refuge in Aligarh? But the film itself is bigger than these things. Like in his ‘Shahid’, Hansal Mehta and scriptwriter Apurva Asrani have come up with a lead character and a film which shines with authenticity and emotional heft, which leaves you thinking, and which says something we should all listen to, especially in these times when it has become more imperative than ever before: we can be different, but we are us.
Review by Kunal Guha on Mumbai Mirror
It’s safe to say, this is one of Manoj Bajpayee’s most challenging roles. Managing a character that has been largely caricatured in Hindi films, he interprets his as one who is restrained and grieves privately. Rajkummar Rao is amiable as an enthusiastic journalist who hopes to establish an unbiased voice in his reportage. Many feel this film stands for gay rights or makes an argument for repealing Section 377 or is a testament of those who endure atrocities on account of their sexual orientation. It is all that but largely, it is a film that documents one man’s struggle to survive, be accepted and find a space for himself in a judgmental non-inclusive society. How one experiences this film mirrors one’s opinions and preconceived notions of alternative sexualities. It’s a film of many firsts. And given how most Hindi movies caricature homosexuals, this one is a reality check.
Review by Martin D’Souza on Glamsham
After his Successful SHAHID, Mehta works his way through another biopic, and although he gets his subject right, not all of his surroundings get things going. It is only the brilliance of Bajpayee that negates all such short-comings. Rajkumar Rao’s character as a reporter from Indian Post is not well-defined; nor is his role in his organization. He is shown as the ‘ticker man’ when it is now a redundant post, done away with ever since computers and the internet invaded our lives. Tickers or news inputs from different agencies (PTI, UNI, AFP, Reuters) would be handled by a clerk who would give the respective copies to the various departments (Sports, Politics, Business, Crime…). Just like proof readers are done away with, so are the ‘ticker guys’.
Review by Sarita A Tanwar on DNA India
The best part of the film is its utter commitment to Siras’ story. We watched silently while an innocent man was victimised just because he was different from us, that’s just one more reason to watch this film.
Review by Suhani Singh on India Today
What makes Aligarh a must-watch is that in Siras audiences are treated to a character who breaks all the Bollywood stereotypes of being gay. He isn’t the lecherous sort dressed in garish outfits, but a dignified, educated man. He is a recluse who is brought alive beautifully by Bajpayee. Siras is a far cry from the colourful characters that made Bajpayee a household name. Bajpayee’s soft delivery, his silences, his eyes, his measured movements deftly convey the character’s pathos, his yearning for solitude, his mounting troubles and fears. It’s that rare, restrained performance that Bajpayee will be remembered for.
Review by Mehul S Thakkar on Deccan Chronicle
Rajkummar Rao who plays the role of a journalist (Deepu) is mediocre and is same like he has been in his earlier films. He had so much scope to shine but it is an opportunity wasted. Cinematography Satya Ray Nagpaul is commendable bringing out the real essence of the life of the professor the way he has shot it. Sound design by Mandar Kulkarni works keeping in mind the mood of the film. Manoj Bajpayee proves again that he can mould himself into any character and entertain the audience.
Review by Sukanya Verma on Rediff
Mehta shoots Aligarh’s nights in hues of honey-yellow even as days are filled with scenes of dusty streets, dilapidated flax yellow walls and kitschy upholstery that finds a lot of love in small-town abodes. The pace is unhurried, the background score is minimal, and Aligarh’s mood is often dry or distant. And that’s why the fleeting comedy around Rao’s landlady appears like scenes from another movie. In Hindi cinema, where homosexuality is an object of derisive gags or caricature, the portrayal Aligarh offers is refreshing and respectful. But it’s much too multifaceted, at times for its own good, to be acknowledged for just that.
Review by Rajeev Masand on IBNLive
Aligarh is an important film, and it’s powered by sensitive writing, nuanced direction, and masterful performances from its central players. The image of Siras, a grown man blushing when he’s described as handsome, or when a gathering of gay men hail his poetry, stays with you long after you’ve watched the film. Its deliberate pace occasionally makes you restless, and you long to know more about Siras than the plot lets you in on. What kind of professor was he? Did he have any friends? How did his ‘shaming’ impact his family in Nagpur? Crucially though, the tragic climax never pierces you in the manner that it ought to. The emotional wallop is missing. Mehta eschews melodrama throughout the film, but in blunting this key moment in Siras’ story, the filmmakers deny the viewer a chance to bring one’s feelings to a boil. Sometimes a good cry is a way of saying I care.
Review by Meeta on Wogma
Rajkummar Rao does brilliantly to bring this through too. His performance is almost taken for granted because of the meek and subdued character Manoj Bajpai plays with such elegance. You know the blushing, nervous, anxious, angry, lonely facets of boring Prof. Siras because – Manoj Bajpai.
Average critic ratings of other movies released in 2015 – 2016
- Neerja – 4 stars
- LoveShhuda – 2 stars
- Ishq Forever – 1.4 stars
- Fitoor – 2.3 stars
- Sanam Re – 1.6 stars
- Ghayal Once Again – 2.4 stars
- Sanam Teri Kasam – 1.6 stars
- Saala Khadoos – 2.6 stars
- Mastizaade – 1 stars
- Airlift – 3.7 stars
- Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3 – 1 stars
- Wazir – 2.5 stars
- Dilwale – 2.5 stars
- Bajirao Mastani – 3.2 stars
- Hate Story 3 – 1.7 stars