Bollywood Film on HIV/AIDS Opens to Mixed Reviews, Could Represent Ideological Shift on HIV/AIDS in India
August 30, 2004
"Phir Milenge," the first Bollywood Hindi film to focus on HIV/AIDS in India, may represent a shift in Indian popular culture as the country is "belatedly starting to come to terms with the virus," the Washington Post reports (Lancaster, Washington Post, 8/29). However, some audience members "booed and heckled" the film, which opened worldwide on Friday, and some left the theater, "apparently unable to digest their favorite actor suffering from AIDS," the AP/Los Angeles Times reports (AP/Los Angeles Times, 8/28). The film, which was directed by Revathy Menon and stars Indian actors Salman Khan and Shilpa Shetty, tells the story of Tamanna, a female advertising executive who is fired after her employer discovers she is HIV-positive. Tamanna then files and eventually wins a discrimination lawsuit against her employer. The film examines the stigma, discrimination and ignorance associated with HIV/AIDS in the workplace, as well as how people can address HIV discrimination through the country's courts. The Bollywood film industry -- which is based in Mumbai, India -- produces 800 films a year and an estimated 15 million people watch the films each day (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/24). According to the Post, the film borrows its central plot from the 1993 U.S. movie "Philadelphia," in which an HIV-positive lawyer files a wrongful dismissal suit after he is fired by his firm. Menon, who has been involved with HIV prevention efforts in her home state of Tamil Nadu, said, "There is a stigma towards my film itself. The press is saying it's an AIDS film. If a main character in a film has cancer, you don't call it a cancer film." Menon added, "Truthfully speaking, I just thought this was a cause that needed to be talked about" (Washington Post, 8/29).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.