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The Gates Foundation has got it all wrong

According to Mira Nair, the big names in Hindi filmdom do not want to be associated with promoting AIDS awareness (Read here). The project, promoted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has not takers. So Mira Nair, Vishal Bharadwaj, Santosh Siva, and Farhan Akhtar are to make shorts that will be screened before blockbusters.

Interesting to note the parallels with Hollywood, which too avoided the topic — unlike the independents and TV (disease-of -the-week-movie format). Though AIDS was reported in 1981, it wasn’t until Philadelphia‘s release in 1993 that the industry took note. Even so, the representations tended to portray it as a problem of gay people.

The frosty reception to Phir Milenge (We shall meet again, Dir:Revathi, 2004) appears to prove a point of the conservative attitudes of the popular cinema community (read this report: Aishwarya “domesticated”, says Big B) and the culture it breeds (note the success of films such as Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gam, Baghban).

TV does it better
The parallels with Hollywood are uncanny. The question is whether popular cinema or television is more attuned to the culture they claim to represent. Maybe the Gates Foundation has got it all wrong. TV and low-budget independent films such as An Early Frost (1985), Parting Glances (1986) got it right and obtained top ratings.

Cable did a very good job by taking the epic approach — And the Band Played On (1993), about doctors trying to isolate the AIDS virus, and Angels in America (2003). Both movies played on the politics of AIDS, particularly the way the establishment dealt with the problem.


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