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POIGNANT MESSAGE:
POIGNANT MESSAGE: "Azhagae Vaa."

MALATHI RANGARAJAN

`Azhagae Vaa,' an ad film on HIV/AIDS, puts things in perspective.

The 2.5-minute short ad film, `Azhagae Vaa' is Nalamdana's new venture. The charitable t rust, established in 1993, has been doing yeomen service in addressing key social and health issues. Their latest short quells myths about HIV/AIDS. Mainstreaming HIV Positive patients is one of Nalamdana's earnest endeavours. "The stigmatised lot has to be allowed to live their lives in peace," said Nithya Balaji, Nalamdana's executive trustee, at the special screening of the film at AVM Studios, Chennai. The trust's `Pesu Maname Pesu,' a one-hour film on the same issue and its dubbed versions in Malay alam, Kannada and Telugu, were also showcased in parts. Filmmaker Thankar Bachan released the short and Izumi Yamamoto, India Programme Manager, I-Tech, received the first copy. `Azhage' an audiocassette in three languages, was also released on the occas ion. These educative materials have been made possible with the funding that Nalamdana receives from the Ford Foundation. `Azhagae Vaa' revolves round a couple. For a change, and boldly so, director Jeevanandham shows the wife as the one with the disease , while the husband wishes to do everything possible to keep her happy. The doctor's counselling helps her understand that she can live a normal life, and those around her can rest assured that they will not be affected by her condition. Devendran's re-r ecording is in tune with the mood and message of `Azhagae Vaa.' The lyric of the song sung by SPB, however, could have been better.

What they said

"We act out plays at hospitals to help patients know the truth about HIV, and come out of their depression. It is wrong to think that HIV/AIDS is prevalent only among the poor. And ostracising the afflicted is no remedy," said director Jeevanandham, who is one of Nalamda na's trustees. He was all praise for Sriroja, the heroine of the short. (Sampath is the hero.) "None was willing to play the role. She was the only one who agreed," he said, as he introduced her to the audience. As always, Thankar Bachan was forthright. "They have done a good job. But people rarely take an ad film seriously. On the other hand they believe whatever is shown in a feature film.In real life, a husband may not believe what his wife says and vice versa. Yet they are willing to buy all that is said on the big screen! It is sad that Tamil Nadu, which has made a name for itself in various progressive fields, also has many HIV Positive patients. Cinema should take it up as a theme and present it with sensitivity," he said. Izumi Yamamoto, who wo rks for the cause too, was all praise for Nalamdana. Director Arvind Raj, one of the chief guests, announced that he was available for any help or advice in Nalamdana's future projects. It is surprising that in a matter of two minutes and a half, `Azhag ae Vaa' captures the crux quite poignantly. Of course, the protagonist could have avoided mentioning the term "HIV Positive" nearly half a dozen times in a matter of 60 seconds, but you understand director R. Jeevanandham's keenness to reiterate his mess age. Specially as `Azhagae Vaa' will be shown in theatres all over Tamil Nadu soon.


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