Friday, May 30, 2008

'AIDS Jaago' waalon... Jaago

Read this interview by Mira Nair, the brains behind the Aids Jaago campaign! Aids Jaago campaign is a set of four short films directed by four Indian directors and funded by the Gates Foundation. But what intrigues me is the audience for such movies and the channel though which the target audience is reached.

Indeed all four films talk very real-life like about the human side of things moving from Pankaj Kapur making a passing comment on the difference between having AIDS and eing HIV positive to Arjun Mehta screaming at his dad saying 'You just didn't care. Protection toh use kar lete.' And then there are scenes which explicitly mention the importance of using condoms, where Vijay Raaz is shown doing a road show with a blown up condom tied to his hands! So, per se amongst all the four movies, the message is quite well covered.

However, it is appalling that I had to search it on the net to view these videos. Would it be an overstatement to say that most people who surf the net, which is a paltry 3% in India, and actually search for these videos surely do not need a movie to raise this awareness? And by this, I do not intend to demean the quality of the movies or intent of the makers in any way! Nor am I trying to say that only the ones who are less educated need to get the message. The movies, though might not suit the less educated, who IMHO certainly need more explicit messages to be passed across. I might be underestimating the intelligence of the average movie goer, but I am only basing my arguments on the kind of 'mainstream films' that top Box Office charts nowadays.

Anyway, I heard from my sis that she saw this movie on National Geographic! Now, in my accordance, what good can this possibly achieve! Shouldn't these movies be screened on the National DD network (which is the most extensive network in the country) or at least on the Star/ Sony/ Zee/ Sun network during prime time. I mean, I think, that would be the right way to target the mass. With the kind of following the 'Saas-Bahu' epics have, it would only be too appreciated if a certain 'Saas-bahu' pair come on screen and give a short 30-second speech on the importance of the awareness and dedicate one day a week for one of the short films! A month and all four are done!

Secondly, why aren't these movies been screened in movie halls. A mere 20 mins...! For a dying man's sake, can not the movie hall screen this short film before the movie begins? It has certainly be done before for a certain short film which starred Vivek Oberoi, I guess! I sincerely hope that a chain like the PVR or Adlabs (BIG, yet?) shuold take this up and let not such movies be 'relegated' to Cannes and Toronto.

Anyway, right now, all I can say is that perhaps this is too early and the Aids Jaago team is working on these. Well, I certainly hope and pray that they do! Otherwise it would be a job well done; yet futile! All the best...!


Shoba said...

Exactly my sentiments. I came across this movie while surfing channels on Dec 1st. And my first questions was, why the hell is this on national geographic?why arent they playing this on Sun TV! Having worked at an NGO serving the population for who this movie was/is a must-see, i completely agree with you that this is something that has to be shown to more audience. The point is not to reach only the people that are affected by HIV but the people who are going to live with these people too..that us. the general public. The more people seeing this movie, the better the knowledge and the awareness.

You would think that the IMHO would have sent the movie atleast to the NGOs or hospitals catering to PLHA. but sadly that was not the case. And thanks to you, I managed to download the movie, write a DVD and send it to the NGO i worked at and they are going to work on translating the movie so the patients can understand and even maybe to play it during our community education sessions.

Abinav Kumar said...

Great job Sho, wrt the DVD! Yes, it is indeed more for the people who are to live with the patients.

And, I guess people are aware; yet do not realize! Keep the good work going!

Harini said...

Well well well - the purpose of introducing sex education in schools, I surmise, was to raise an entire young generation that was aware of the methods of prevention of and protection against Sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS. I thought it was a brilliant idea, but apparently, my thoughts don't count and they decided to scrap it entirely because it focused on anatomic details that would allegedly 'arouse unwarranted excitement'.

But on an entirely different note - India actually is not suffering from an AIDS pandemic. There are manifold people who die from Tuberculosis in our country even today as compared to the AIDS related mortality statistics. Yet, it is appalling that extremely few is really aware of the illness, it's symptoms and signs and it's curability. AIDS in affects India in pockets but TB is completely impartial to caste and class.

I don't mean to take away the importance attached to propagating awareness among people of debilitating Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome, but all I am saying is, it's also about time that we focus equally if not more on issues related to Tuberculosis if we're serious about public health in this country.

Shoba said...

hey harini, sex education is no more a taboo atleast in the South as far as I know cos there are NGOs working with the state govt to actually introduce sex education in the govt schools. Maybe we could have something similar here and across the country..maybe they already do.

but coming to your point on TB, i would like to let you know that TB is the one of the biggest Opportunistic Infection among people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA), meaning one of the most common diseases that the PLHA get are TB, next in line is pneumonia. So yeah, I agree that equal attention should be given to TB and more awareness is required. I guess a lot of the general public arent yet aware of the TB vaccine.

Sadly, people who do spread awareness about HIV do tend to leave TB and the other OIs that go along with it. hmmm...Thanks Harini. I am going to try my best to spread knowledge on TB to the HIV/AIDS patients that we work with :-)

Abinav Kumar said...

Oh My God...! A doc and a NGO volunteer!

@God - Why can't we have more pairs as these! [:)]

I think, besides education and awareness of course, primary health care or rather the almost absolute lack of it is a major driver for the unawareness! Of course, you both are in a much better situation to comment on this...