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The winds of change have slowly and steadily begun to sweep Bollywood. The kind of films we see today are more nuanced in their approach, and the audience is beginning to embrace this transition. But there have been certain films that smashed stereotypes way ahead of their times. Some of these are on the subject of AIDS, which is still considered a taboo. On World AIDS Day 2021, HealthShots shines the spotlight on top 5 Bollywood films that have dealt with the subject in a sensitive manner, and at the same time, moved audiences with its content.
As the name suggests, this is an anthology of 10 stories, and “Zahir” is one of them. With actors like Dia Mirza and Manoj Bajpayee in lead roles, this short film focuses on a woman who befriends her neighbour. The storyline then moves on to how the man wants to move ahead in the relationship, but Mirza doesn’t give in. After she refuses his advances, the neighbour rapes her and contracts the disease. The film sheds light on the stigma around AIDS, and how it is perpetuated even today in society.
Helmed by stalwarts like Mira Nair, Vishal Bhardwaj and Farhan Akhtar, the four pieces that are a part of the anthology — Migration, Blood Brothers, Positive, and Prarambha — speak about different aspects of the disease. Positive by Farhan Akhtar is particularly moving. It is about a story of a man who finds out that his father is a victim of HIV. He is faced by a dilemma, since he has to either forgive him for cheating on his mother, or making his last days pleasant on his deathbed. With Arjun Mathur, Shabana Azmi and Boman Irani in lead roles, the film really brings out the emotional turmoil of a family that has been hit by this news.
This film, released in 2005, was way ahead of its time. With Sanjay Suri and Juhi Chawla in lead roles, this film spoke about two subjects that are considered taboo in our society — homosexuality and AIDS. Suri plays the role of a gay man who contracts HIV, and is at the centre of it all, due to the social stigma that prevails in our society. He is disowned by his parents, and the only people who stand by him are his sister and partner.
Although this film had some of the biggest Bollywood names like Salman Khan, Shilpa Shetty and Abhishek Bachchan, the Revathy-directed film did not let the stars overshadow the subject. The film is about how an employee played by Shetty is fired from her job, after being diagnosed with HIV. Once again, the movie shed light on the stigma and discrimination faced by HIV victims, but handled the subject delicately.
This film directed by Mahesh Manjrekar centres around a teenage girl who contracts HIV through blood transfusion. The film will tug at your heartstrings, as the girl’s family tries their best to be there with her, as she goes through this turmoil.