While Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh movie is getting impressive reviews all around, a fringe muslim group called Millat Bedari Muhim Committe (MBMC) has been able to halt the screening of the movie in Aligarh City.

The group is objecting to the title of the movie, which according to them will defame the city of Aligarh due to the theme of the movie which is based on a homosexual professor. MBMC Secretary Jasim Mohammad told Indian Express that both Hindus and Muslims were supporting their call, “We protested a week ago near the university’s circle. Four cinema halls in the city were to show the film — Starworld Cinemas, BIG Cinemas Vadra, Apsara and Minaxi — but they all backed out after our protest.”

Shakuntala Bharti, the Mayor of Aligarh and a BJP Member, supported the ban and said they had issued a warning that they will not allow the screening of the movie in the city. Talking to Indian Express she said, “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.”

MBMC has also written a letter to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting stating that the movie will tarnish the image of Aligarh. “The title of the film i.e. ‘Aligarh’ is offending as it sends a message (that) gay practice is common at Aligarh. The title is not suitable and proper by any means. It will desist (sic) people (from) send(ing) their children to Aligarh for studies.”

A report in Hindustan Times states that the AMU students action committee leaders Shikoh and Fahim Akhtar have said that they will soon lodge an FIR against Mehta.

The administration though has confirmed that there is no official ban on the movie and they haven’t received any complaints yet.

Hansal Mehta expressed his disappointment at the developments and told Times of India, “This is a homophobic decision. They do not want Aligarh to be linked with homosexuality, but now they will be linked with homophobia.”

Sukhdeep Singh