With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mira Nair took on the challenge of narrating AIDS in India and brought together three other filmmakers – Farhan Akhtar, Santosh Sivan, and Vishal Bhardwaj. Called “AIDS Jaago” (AIDS Awake), these films have been doing the rounds of international film festivals and are now available on Jaman. The goal, as the press release (link) makes clear, was simply to tackle the worst stereotypes that continue to shape public understanding of HIV/AIDS and to do so through a compelling story. Needless to say, this is a stellar line-up of directors and what’s more, they managed to rope in a number of A-list film stars as well for each film.
While I’m sure the stars have been partly responsible for attracting attention, the film that struck a chord with me was the one that did not rely on Bollywood stars – Santosh Sivan’s Prarambha (The Beginning), with Prabhu Deva as a lorry driver who gets caught up in a boy’s journey to find his mother (who happens to be HIV+). But then, my opinion is partly determined by the fact that this film is set in and around Mysore and everyone in the film speaks in Kannada (with some Tamil mixed in for good measure). Yennyway, you can watch all of them here.