I was mesmerised as anyone else when I first saw the trailer of ‘Aligarh’. Again, Manoj Bajpayee hit the right chord with his top notch performance, playing the role of Prof. Dr. Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras. I believe films like ‘Aligarh‘ which talk about homosexuality and its acceptance in the society should be made more often. Issues like homosexuality and same-sex relationships should be discussed, talked and shown in the public domain to make us more acquainted with these concepts as these are still believed to be “alien things” in our country.
But, why is the trailer encouraging #comingout?
Sexual orientation is our own identity. I believe your orientation is your personal choice. You are not at all obliged to come out to anyone. If you want to keep it private, it is as much your choice as coming out is. And your choice should be respected, no matter who you are. Moreover, is it that easy in our country to come out and question, talk, live and love? I don’t think so.
‘Aligarh‘ is based on the true story of Prof. Dr. Shrinivas Siras. Even Prof. Siras in Aligarh University on whom the film has been made did not come out as gay. He was the victim of some local news-hungry reporters who intruded into his home and filmed his consensual involvement with a rickshaw puller. Once his sexual orientation came out in the public, he was thrown out of his accommodation and suspended from his job. He kept his sexual orientation secret for more than 20 years and led a normal life. At the age of 60, he faced persecution just because of his sexual identity. Within two months, he ended his life by committing suicide. Moreover, the incident happened in the period when homosexuality was decriminalised in India. The Delhi High Court struck down Section 377 in 2009. Still, the society could not accept the fact that he was gay. Local reporters illegally filmed him and he faced social persecution.
In a society like ours, it is tough to survive as someone who is slightly different from the notion of an ideal man/woman. In a school, a boy is often harassed as “gay” for his ‘effeminate’ voice tone. A working woman is often denied a rented house just because she is single. When a society is not broad-minded enough to accept everyone as he/she is, what is the point of coming out and facing mental trauma? Decriminalisation of Section 377 will not provide societal acceptance which is equally important to survive in the society. Is it not better to feel something than being quiet about it than facing constant victimisation? After all, it is an individual’s personal choice to voice his/her sexual orientation.