Eros International and Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh has been selected for screening at the prestigious BFI London Film Festival, after Busan International Film Festival.
Aligarh tells the story of an old professor on the verge of his retirement is expelled from his University after a camera captures him engaged in a homosexual act. Though consensual, it triggers a controversy regarding morality and tradition. A young journalist sets out to investigate the truth and unravel the reality of this ‘sting operation’, which led the professors suspicious death, 2 days before the courts were due to clear him of any misgivings.
Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh is fast becoming a toast of international film festivals. Close on the heels of the announcement of its World Premiere at the forthcoming Busan International Film Festival, comes the news of its selection at the prestigious 59th BFI London Film Festival (7-18 October). The film will play as part of the Festival’s Debate strand: Riveting films that amplify, scrutinise and surprise.
National award winning filmmaker Hansal Mehta brings a sensitive, humane story from small town India with Aligarh. Starring acclaimed actors Manoj Bajpayee and Rajkummar Rao, the film draws from a real incident that took place in Uttar Pradesh. A Professor (Manoj Bajpayee) is suspended by his university for being gay after he is caught on camera in a sting operation. A young journalist (Rajkummar Rao) investigates his first breaking story. Set in the myriad dark lanes of a volatile, decadent society, the two strike an unlikely friendship that will change them forever.
Clare Stewart, BFI London Film Festival Director states, “Our programme team found the film to be daring and strong, telling an incredibly important story that London audiences will definitely respond to.“
The BFI is often a precursor for winners and celebrated gems from cinema across the world. Hansal Mehta said: “I am touched and very grateful that the BFI has positioned Aligarh in such a relevant discussion. I think the recognition that international film festivals are giving us validates our reasons for making this film.”
Producer Sunil Lulla, Managing Director, Eros International Media Ltd, said, “At Eros, we take pride in producing films like ‘Aligarh’, that tell a story with a difference. Hansal Mehta has made a relevant & beautiful film and its screenings at BFI and Busan prove that such films will always find an audience.”
The inclusion comes as no surprise as TV shows like Channel 4’s documentary Muslim Drag Queens, have highlighted the taboo nature of homosexuality in the Asian community and stories such as Safraz Manzoor, the Asian man who killed himself because his family was unaccepting of his homosexuality.
Director, Hansal Mehta, is knwon for making films that are close to real life and showcasing human-interest stories from the eyes of common man protagonists. Mehta continues to chart his own course with films that reflect an independent spirit and stories that have a global appeal. And now he is ready to up the game, and continue telling stories that appeal to his heart and reflect his sensibilities. He is widely outspoken against the establishment in India, which could be really interesting ahead of Narendra Modi’s first UK visit from the 12th till the 15th November. Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi is against homosexuality and has reintroduced a ban on ‘unnatural relationships‘ and Hansal is very outspoken against this.
For tickets to see the film at the BFI London Film Festival, please see here.
According to Cary Rajinder Sawhney at the BFI:
“Probably the best film yet on the Indian gay male experience, Hansal Mehta directs a riveting and nuanced tale that is as touching as it is powerful. Professor Siras is suspended by his university after a photographer breaks into his house and catches him in bed with his male rickshaw-driver lover. Deepu, an ambitious young journalist, hears of the sensational story and heads to Aligarh University to meet Siras. What he discovers is a shy intellectual, wracked by embarrassment. Deepu carries out a more detailed investigation and reveals that the university was behind the break-in. Deepu and LGBT activists convince Siras to challenge the suspension in high court, becoming the spearhead in the fight for gay rights in India. Apurva Asrani’s script allows Mehta to take us on a delicate journey of subtle emotions, while Manoj Bajapayee and Rajkummar Rao deliver compelling performances as the professor and campaigning journalist.”