It was a collection of inspiring stories of persons who braved HIV/AIDS, who overcame societal stigma and who showed the way to live for other HIV-affected persons. The stories were scripted from real-life instances and directed by eminent filmmakers – Mira Nair, Farhan Akthar, Vishal Bharadwaj and Santosh Sivan.
The films, commissioned by Bill Melinda Gates Foundation, have been witnessing extensive screening across the India. To spread the awareness among people in the State, the Tamil Nadu AIDS Initiative (TAI) and the Voluntary Health Services (VHS) have joined hands with the Foundation to dub the films into Tamil.
Director Santosh Sivan launched the Tamil version of ‘AIDS Jaago,' the four-film series here on Thursday. The screening of the Tamil version of the series, titled ‘Vazhkai Mukkiyam – Vizhitidu' saw a large gathering of transgender and commercial sex workers. Releasing the DVDs of the films, Mr. Sivan said that a lot of research went into the making of his film (‘Prarambh') in the series. He visited Mysore and recorded real-life instances in the lives of commercial sex workers. The film talks about a small boy with HIV/AIDS denied admission in a school and a lorry driver fight for the child's rights. The cast for the 13-minute film include Prabhu Deva, Saroja Devi and Ramya. “The actors were more than willing to be part of the awareness film. I hope the Tamil version would reach out to the villages and be instrumental in removing the societal stigma.” ‘AIDS Jaago' has been screened at many international film festivals, he added.
The other films in the series include Vishal Bharadwaj's ‘Blood Brothers' starring Siddharth and Ayesha Takia; Farhan Akthar's ‘Positive' starring Shabana Azmi and Boman Irani; and Mira Nair's ‘Migration' starring Sameera Reddy and Shiney Ahuja.
Padma Chandrasekharan, Head, Immunisation and Vaccines, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said the films would go a long way in sensitising people to the need to support persons with HIV/AIDS.
VHS secretary E.S. Krishnamurthy said that VHS has been working along with Tamil Nadu government at various levels to help and support marginalised sections of the society.
R. Lakshmibai, Project Director TAI, moderated an interactive session with Santosh Sivan and audience.