Aligarh (2016)

Director Hansal Mehta is adept at handling tricky and sensitive subjects, so ‘Aligarh’ was something he tackled appropriately. From the moment the film opened, the mood, tone and pace of the film were set.

The unfortunate real life story of Professor Siras at Aligarh University, is retold by writer / editer Apurva Asrani in a sensitive, dignified manner, always facing the truth and relaying the facts.

Manoj Bajpai as Siras is the restrained shining beacon in the film. What could be a National Award worthy performance, he charms our hearts and wrenches our soul with his simple, docile manner. Charged for homosexuality, he beautifully and repeatedly asked for love not to be labelled or defined.

Rajkumar Rao is his usual dependable self, seeking out troubled waters and trying to calm the ripples by reason, logic and pure reporting. Ashish Vidyarthi as the lawyer gives us an insight into the laws as they were and are. The treatment of the subject is mature without resorting to melodrama or spite.

The troubled world for the LGBT community and the laws that are in place for them are brought to the fore in this tale told with patience and strength. The vision to bring this story to the audiences deserves every credit.

3.5/5

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Mahabharat (2013)

Director Aman Khan who also made the animated film ‘Krishna’ in 2006 brings us this tale in 2013. The interesting approach was to have the character’s facial features match the actors who were doing their voiceovers. The tale is known to all, but it was compressed well to fit the 2 hour film format, covering all the highlights.

It is very expensive to make good quality animation films, and takes a lot of time. When Hollywood releases such movies, their estimated production budget can be anywhere between $100 – $150 million dollars. The aspect which suffers here is the very unfinished and amateur animation which we are forced to consume. This could very well be a rough draft brief to an animator, but alas, it is the finished product.

There will not be a market big enough for such a film, though ‘Bal Ganesh’ and ‘Ganesha’ were a rage with children. I understand why much money couldn’t be pumped into the film to give it the look it deserved. Close up shots show us major faults and lack of expressions, such important details for an epic like this.

It can be educational for children, but even the stellar voices cannot save the film for adults.

2/5