An estimated 36.7 million people, including 1.8 million children around the world live with HIV, statistics from UNAIDS 2016 have revealed.
India, like most developing countries, lacks a comprehensive dialogue on AIDS that is informative enough to the common man. While India has a staggering amount of content that is meant to raise awareness, it fails to achieve its aim. The information is too technical and poorly-packaged to eliminate the stigma surrounding the ailment.
However, one of the more successful ways to raise awareness on the issue is to package it with entertainment. This is not over-simplification but rather, a tried and tested method. So, here is a list of movies that have been successful in educating viewers about AIDS while still retaining their core element - entertainment.
1. My Brother Nikhil (2005)
This 2005 film, directed by Onir and starring Sanjay Suri, Juhi Chawla and Purab Kohli, revolves around the life of an Indian AIDS activist.
Set in Goa between 1986 and 1994, Nikhil Kapoor (Sanjay Suri) plays a state swimming champion who is ostracized from society after he is diagnosed with HIV. Not only does he lose his berth in the team, but he is also legally isolated by the government - as a direct fallout of the flawed Goa Public Health Act.
Anamika (Juhi Chawla) and Nigel (Purab Kohli) stay with Nikhil and help him through the troubled times, despite facing criticism from the society.
2. 68 pages (2007)
Directed by Sridhar Rangayan and produced by NGO Humsafar Trust, 68 pages revolves around the life of an HIV-AIDS counseller and her patients.
Viewers are given a peek at the lives of Paayal, a commercial sex worker; Nishit, an intravenous drug user; Kiran, a gay man; and Umrao, a transsexual bar dancer - all members of the marginalised community, who are discriminated against before and after contracting HIV. The film weaves these stories together to put forward a rather striking message about the importance of understanding the HIV-AIDS community and their daily struggles.
3. Phir Milenge (2004)
Phir Milenge is one of Bollywood's most commercial projects to deal with the subject of HIV-AIDS.
The Revathi-directorial follows the life of a successful adwoman named Tamanna Sahni (Shilpa Shetty), whose life falls apart after she contracts HIV from an old friend. After being fired from her job because of the ailment, Tamanna stumbles upon Tarun Anand (Abhishek Bachchan) who takes up the case and fights for her rights.
4. The Normal Heart (2014)
Directed by Emmy award-winner Ryan Murphy, the film chronicles the onset of the HIV-AIDS crisis in New York City in the early 1980s. The film takes an unflinching look at the nation's sexual politics as gay activists and their allies in the medical community fight to expose the truth about the burgeoning epidemic to a city and nation in denial.
Mark Ruffalo (Ned Weeks) the protagonist, starts to seek answers after he notices the mysterious disease which claims the lives of many in the gay community. Weeks dedicates himself to spreading awareness about the ailment at a time when the government was openly opposed to the queer community.
5. Longtime Companion (1990)
One of the first AIDS-themed films to hit the big screen, Longtime Companion traces the effect of the disease, beginning with its emergence in 1981.
The film chronicles the lives of several gay men living in New York City during the 1980s. It features several moving moments, including a goose bump-inducing final scene, and stellar performances from a cast that includes Oscar-nominee and Golden Globe-winner Bruce Davison, along with Campbell Scott and Mary-Louise Parker.
6. Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
The film, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, is based on the true story of Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) a rodeo cowboy who tests positive for HIV.
Jared Leto plays a transgender woman in the film, which follows Woodroof as he negotiates his way around illegal AIDS medication and homophobia.
The film swept a host of awards that year, including the Oscar for best actor, Oscar for best actor in a supporting role, Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role and New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor, to name a few