Mumbai: Filmmaker Hansal Mehta says he is overjoyed to see his real-life inspired drama "Aligarh" being selected to open the 17th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, which will begin here from October 29.
Set in a town in Uttar Pradesh from which the film takes its name, "Aligarh" is the story of an Aligarh Muslim University professor Dr Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras (Manoj Bajpayee), who was fired for his sexuality and a young journalist (Rajkummar Rao).
The film depicts the unlikely friendship between Dr Siras and a reporter investigating his first big story.
Mehta, 47, who won the National Award in best direction in 2013 for his critically acclaimed "Shahid", said the film festival holds a very special place in his heart.
"I am overjoyed that 'Aligarh', my first film about a city other than Mumbai is the opening film of the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival. This is a befitting reward for a team that has worked selflessly to make a film they are passionate about.
"This festival holds a very special place in my heart as it began a journey of awards for 'Shahid' which was until then an unheralded dark horse in a year of sparkling indies," Mehta said in a statement.
"Aligarh" will become the second Hindi film to open the festival since its foundation in 1998. Veteran actress Jaya Bachchan-starrer "Hazar Chaurasi Ki Maa" opened the festival in 1997.
Rao also shared the news on Twitter and congratulated the cast and crew members of the film, which has been produced by Eros International.
He wrote, "Thrilled to announce that #Aligarh is the opening film at MAMI. @mehtahansal @Mumbaifilmfest @Apurvasrani. Congratulations team. #JioMAMI."
"Aligarh" has been selected to screen at the 20th Busan International Film Festival in South Korea and the 59th BFI London Film Festival, this October.
The 17th Jio MAMI's Mumbai Film Festival will be held in Mumbai from October 29 to November 5.