Dec 01 2015

Being Positive: Bollywood films that tackled AIDS

by   Shriram Iyengar

  From the cynically socialist 'Pyaasa' to the touching 'Taare Zameen Par', Indian filmmakers have explored issues that lacked political will. One such issue is the problem of AIDS. Here are some films that tackled the disease with sensibility 

1 My Brother Nikhil

Directed by Onir, the film was a double blind with Sanjay Suri playing the role of a gay man who is HIV positive. Suri portrayed Nikhil in all his fears and joys to great acclaim. Juhi Chawla put in a competent performance as Nikhil's only friend and supporter, his sister. The film hit a raw nerve for film audiences, and brought the problem of HIV to light in a sensitive manner.

2 Phir Milenge

Salman Khan is known as the man with the big heart. He has been a long time supporter of the fight against AIDS. Yet, it was a marked departure for Salman to play the HIV affected patient in this wonderful take on 'Philadelphia'. Shilpa Shetty played an ad executive whose job is unfairly terminated. Abhishek Bachchan too made an appearance as the lawyer fighting for the cause. In the end, it was the topic and the emotional storyline which took precedence over the star cast.

3 Positive

When Bill and Melinda Gates decided to take in filmmakers to create films on this vicious disease, Farhan Akhtar was one of the many who stepped up. His short film 'Positive' is an emotional take on the unravelling of a family, when the father suffers from the disease. Boman Irani as the flippant father is brilliant. Shabana Azmi as the mother brings resolve and character to the part.

4 Blood Brothers

Even in his most sensitive take on the disease, Vishal Bhardwaj cannot eschew the noir of it. Siddharth and Pavan Malhotra played the two men whose blood reports are switched. Director Vishal Bhardwaj displays a magical understanding of the fear and paranoia that can consume patients of this disease. From the idea to its execution, it makes a case for the ostracism and paranoia with which the disease is viewed.

5 Prarambha

In another film that was part of this wonderful mission to spread awareness about the disease, Santhosh Sivan chose the point of view of an orphan boy. A tale of longing and loss, Prarambha stars Prabhu Deva in a brilliant performance. Playing the unwilling truck driver trying to find the boy’s mother, Prabhu Deva offers a glimpse of his talent. But the hero of the film is again the plot that explains the difficulty and shame that sufferers of the disease experience.