National Award-winning filmmaker Hansal Mehta’s real life-inspired drama ‘Aligarh’ premiered on Friday at the 17th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival in Mumbai. The film, starring Rajkummar Rao and Manoj Bajpayee, is based on the actual story of Professor Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras, who was fired from his job because of his sexual orientation. Rajkummar, who previously worked with Mehta in the National Award-wining 2013 biographical ‘Shahid’, plays a journalist in ‘Aligarh’.
“Hansal is like family to me now. It’s our third film. It is a very special and important film of our time. I am excited as this is the first screening of the film in our country,” the 31-year-old actor told reporters at the premiere.
Bajpayee, 46, who plays the role of Professor Siras in the film, said he was overwhelmed with the audience response despite the movie being based on a subject which is hardly discussed in public.
“A film like ‘Aligarh’ deals with a subject which is still considered taboo in our country. Never thought while making it that we would be received with so much curiosity and overwhelming response,” Bajpayee said.
‘Aligarh’ became the second Hindi film, after veteran actress Jaya Bachchan-starrer ‘Hazar Chaurasi Ki Maa’, to open the festival since its launch in 1998.
Mehta said, “Aligarh is a heartfelt story of our times… Want everybody to watch the film, which is not about sexuality but about fundamental rights.”
The premiere was attended by Bollywood stars like Vidya Balan, filmmaker Kiran Rao, who is also the MAMI Chairperson, and ‘Pyaar Ka Punchnama’ actor Kartik Aaryan, among others.
The eight-day festival, organised by Mumbai Academy of Moving Images (MAMI) with Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJIL) and Star India, began yesterday and will screen nearly 225 films in the feature/documentary/short films categories.
French romantic-comedy ‘One Plus One’ (‘Un plus une’), directed by Claude Lelouch, will bring the curtains down on the festival on November 5. Academy Award-nominated director Ava DuVernay, of ‘Selma’ fame, who is heading the international jury at the festival, was also present.