A couple of days ago I watched Aligarh. If you haven’t already watched it, please do. It is the story of a homosexual Professor – Siras – who gets filmed being intimate with a rickshaw puller. He is then fired by the Aligarh university and goes on to fight to get himself reinstated.
Manoj Bajpayee is so bloody brilliant as a man who tries desperately to define himself beyond his sexuality. He is not just a gay person, but someone who enjoys listening to Lata Mangeshkar, immersing himself in poetry and sipping a glass of whisky at night to numb his loneliness. There is such morose tenderness etched in his face with the occasional warmth that springs when someone is kind enough to listen to his stories. It amazes me that this was the same man who played the boisterous Bhikhu in Satya. I love that I can still have some faith in Indian cinema thanks to men like this.
At the end of the film, I was left feeling very disappointed and angry for two massive reasons. The first and obvious being the brimming hatred displayed towards homosexual individuals in our country. Even as I watched the two men who burst into Professor Siras’ home with video cameras and went on to thrash him and his companion and force them to expose their faces to the screen, I tried imagining what they themselves had gone through to transform into such hard, cruel beings. The second was a more intense sort of rage I felt towards Siras’ suicide. I had invested so much hope in his war against a judicial system that had already decriminalized homosexuality in a different state; then he goes and poisons himself and makes everything appear meaningless to me.
But it’s easy for me to feel these emotions. I am on the other side of the fence, the safer side, the so called ‘normal’ side where I am attracted towards someone of the opposite sex. There are no closets or matters of pride for me.
So maybe I will post a rainbow and reach out to those who have to constantly justify a choice that is natural to them. Maybe I will cry for someone who has been ostracized by every single person they loved after coming out to them. Maybe I will wonder when love will grow into such a gigantic cloud and burst and drown the incessant intolerance.
At the end of it all I can only hope for a better world but never truly understand the courage it takes for someone to wake up every day and worry about who will go out of their way to steal their joy. Or worse, their life.