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Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Today being World AIDS Day, I am going to talk about a brilliant bouquet of short films that I have had the privilege to see on UTV World Movies;
'AIDS Jaago' is a collection of four short films that address the AIDS menace which has been alarmingly threatening the Indian population just as several other countries worldwide.
The best thing about this collection of short films is that it is multilingual, and the films have been directed by four eminent Indian directors. It features some of the best known actors & actresses from India (from veterans like Shabana Azmi, Pankaj Kapoor, Boman Irani, Irrfan to the younger breed of talented performers like Siddharth, Prabhu Deva, Ayesha Takia, Sameera Reddy, Raima Sen and Arjun Mathur.
In each, the treatment is unique and the narrative keeps the viewer engrossed despite the foreknowledge that it primarily spreads awareness. None of the films have a dry, preachy tone that often makes many a well-intentioned docu-feature fail to connect with its target audience. Here, the dialogues are crisp, the screenplay taut and the performances competent; I can easily say that the films offer much more than the nuggets of wisdom regarding tackling of the AIDS menace & its preventive safeguards; a young film enthusiast can aspire to learn a lot from the masters by just watching their craft.
Made in 2007, in 35 mm, 'AIDS Jaago' is an Indo-American co-production, graced by the funding from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The total length of the film, with all the four segments, is just 71 minutes.
The segments are as follows:
Migration, directed by Mira Nair;
Prarambha/The Beginning, directed by Santosh Sivan;
Positive, directed by Farhan Akhtar;
Blood Brothers ,directed by Vishal Bharadwaj.
Of all the four films, I particularly loved Prarambha/The Beginning , the Kannada film by Santosh Sivan. In it, a truck driver (played by Prabhu Deva) meets a boy searching for his mother who had left him when she had learnt about being HIV-positive. The way in which the simpleton tries to get the boy, who also has the virus, back into school is touching in a dramatic way, yet it is every bit reflective of the real-life scenario.
In Blood Brothers, Siddharth plays a young man whose life falls apart after being told that he has got the virus; he is plagued by the guilt of having given in to carnal digression. In true Vishal Bharadwaj style, there is a bit of suspense too, and the character of Pawan Malhotra is shown acquiring an uncanny significance later in the tale.
In Migration, Mumbai go-getter Abhay (played by Irrfan) leads a double life, with his wife, Divya (Sameera Reddy), and a gay lover. Impoverished farmer Birju (Shiney Ahuja) has amorous encounters with the neglected Divya, while his own wife (Raima Sen) & baby test positive.
In Positive, a son returns home to nurse his once-philandering father, who is dying of AIDS. Shabana Azmi & Boman Irani excel as usual.
If you haven't been lucky to catch the films on television, you can surely watch them online at the Jaman site. [http://www.jaman.com/aidsjaago]