Controversial film Aligarh, based on the life of an AMU professor who was sacked on charges of homosexuality, was not screened here for the second consecutive day with the film’s director Hansal Mehta terming it as an “extra-constitutional ban”.
“The film was not screened today. It is an extra-unconstitutional self-proclaimed ban by some fringe group. It is a kind of threat. Even the city mayor is supporting the fringe group,” the film’s director Hansal Mehta told PTI.
“No disrespect has been shown to the city of Aligarh as alleged. On the contrary, teremendous has been shown for the city’s culture. People objecting to the film have not seen it,” the film’s writer Apurva Asrani said.
A fringe group called the Millat Bedari Muhim Committee (MBMC) has arm-twisted exhibitors in Aligarh into cancelling screening of the biopic, it has been alleged.
The group strongly objected to the title Aligarh, stating that the film — based on Professor Ramchandra Siras who was suspended from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in 2010 after he was filmed having consensual sex with a man — sullied the reputation of the city.
Supporting the ban, Aligarh mayor and BJP member Shakuntala Bharti said, “We had issued a warning that we will not allow this film to be shown in the city at any cost. Ten days ago, we lodged our protest against the screening of the movie. Aligarh tameez aur tehzeeb ka shahar hai. Vishwa vikhyat kavi Neeraj ka shahar hai hamara Aligarh (Aligarh is a city of culture and refinement. It is the city of world famous poet Neeraj). Aligarh Muslim University is world renowned. Are they trying to malign the city by naming the film after it? The city is being tarnished by showing that such people also live here.”
“This movie is against our culture. It is against the syncretic Ganga-Jamuni culture of this city. It will bring a bad name to our city,” she said. The mayor will meet district authorities on Monday to seek an official ban.
Meanhwile, district authorities said no official ban has been imposed on the film but threats against the screening and negligible audience on day one, appears to have forced theatre owners here to call off the screening.
Actor Rajkummar Rao, who plays journalist Deepu Sebastian in the movie, said, “Those opposing the movie should watch it before coming to any conclusion. We are not maligning the city’s name. Siras was very attached to the city and lived the last 30 years of his life in Aligarh. The film is not promoting homosexuality.”
Hansal said opposition to the film is “homophobic”. “It has stirred up a debate within Aligarh society… It has nothing to do with homosexuality.
“Aligarh”, starring Manoj Bajpayee, has received wide acclaim. It is based on the life of AMU professor Ramchandra Siras who was suspended from his job because of his sexual orientation. He later committed suicide.