Hindi cinema has always been shy of taking up subjects that could be considered ‘taboo’ otherwise but once in a while, they come out with films that manage to surprise their ardent fans. One such taboo subject that Hindi cinema managed to confront is HIV/AIDS. AIDS has been a hush-hush subject when it comes to talking out loud on the dinner table but making a film on the issue surely brings more eyeballs which helps in spreading awareness. There have been very few films that centered on the issue and while more films must be made on the subject, the filmmakers who managed to delicately handle the trauma and stigma associated with AIDS surely deserve an applause.
1. Dus Kahaniyaan – Zahir
Dus Kahaniyaan is a collection of 10 short films and Zahir, starring Dia Mirza & Manoj Bajpayee, was the one that handled the subject boldly. The short film tells the story of a woman who befriends her neighbour. After the two become friends, the man expects more out of the relationship but she refuses to give in. The stigma around AIDS hits the audience in the face when she is raped by the neighbour and he contracts the disease from her.
2. My Brother…Nikhil
Starring Sanjay Suri and Juhi Chawla, this film proved to be a landmark film as it dealt with a gay man who contracts HIV. The film is set in the late 1980s when awareness about the disease was significantly low. The film deals with the social stigma head on and creates an emotional connect with its audience.
3. Phir Milenge
Directed by Revathi, this film had Shilpa Shetty, Abhishek Bachchan and Salman Khan in the lead roles. Inspired from the Tom Hanks starrer Philadelphia, the film was about the wrongful termination of an employee after she is diagnosed with HIV. The film did not sensationalise the issue and in-spite of having popular actors in their star cast, they managed to impact the audience because of the characters they created.
Directed by Mahesh Manjrekar, Nidaan was the story of a teenage girl who contracts the disease through blood transfusion. Upon learning her condition, the family tries to make the most of the time they have left with her. The film lacks technical finesse but the emotional aspects of the story drive the message home.
This short film by Farhan Akhtar tells the story of a man who learns that his father contracted the virus years ago. With only a little time left, he has to make the conscious choice to forgive his father for cheating on his mother and comfort him on his death bed. With Arjun Mathur, Shabana Azmi and Boman Irani in lead roles, Farhan tries to bring out the emotional conundrum a family faces when hit with such news.
On World AIDS Day, here’s looking forward to more films from Hindi cinema that portray the subject to raise awareness.