Friday, October 26, 2007

Pix from the screening for stakeholders

You can view the pictures and download it at:

Screening for Donor agencies and NGOs

Date: 11th October, 2007 Venue: Juhu Jagruti Hall

An exclusive screening of the film was held at Juhu Jagruti Hall, NMIMS for the staff members of donor agencies and partner NGOs/CBOs. There were representatives from MDACS, Avert Society, FHI, FPAI and SOSVA.

After the screening the audience gave a standing ovation to the film and its entire team. Sanjeev Jain said “bravo we all are speechless”, Sanjeev Gaikwad said “After a long time I have cried watching a film, it really hits”. After the screening most of the audiences were moist eyed. Uma Mehta said that she is highly touched with the line at the end that says “a warm salute to all counselors”.

Most of them felt that each character was well established and leave a mark at the end. Vivek Anand, CEO Humsafar, informed everyone that this film will also be used as a tool to supplement the efforts of NACP III as an advocacy tool to sensitize on the issues of MSM/TG.

All the counselors who came for the screening felt that this movie should not be limited to NGO/CBO it should be watched by everyone in the society as the message in the movie needs to be reached out, so that we more students would like to make their career in counseling. Most of the counselors felt this movie can also help to understand the MSM/TG issues and how to counsel them. This movie should be used by SACS and other funding agencies in their trainings for counselors.

Some comments -

Please accept my congratulations for a landmark film produced by the Humsafar trust. The deeply touching way in which the film spools out and the characters bring to life real issues being faced by people, the human dimensions, the message of hope and the way it leaves you moved, yet hopeful at the end is beyond description. Excellent script, direction, casting, performances, research and topicality have been blended effectively.
Dr.Sanjeev Singh Gaekwad
Director-Maharashtra, Family Health International .
Very sensitively made, realistic in it's portrayal and true to the emotions that exist in such situations. Each story was well defined with equal emphasis given to the central and supporting characters. Strongly brought out the complex circumstances that HIV/AIDS brings into individual's lives as well as the turmoil of learning one's HIV positive status. The film beautifully showed a relationship between 2 men as it truly is and most importantly, without sensationalization which will make general viewers more open. You leave the film with an understanding of the issues involved but with a clear sense of hope
Amrita Bhende
Programme Officer, Family Health International
It was indeed a wonderful film depicting the vital role of a counselor in HIV testing of clients and further providing psychological support to those found positive. The film truly illustrated how a counselor goes beyond her/ his duty and becomes a friend-in-need to those who are rejected or have fear of rejection by the society. I think the film will not just be praised by NGO sector or marginalized communities but will definitely be liked by general people as well. One small point that I felt was not correctly portrayed was that the Counselor tells Nishit (drug addict) that his HIV test was done from a reliable lab by his company (that means one test had confirmed his HIV positive status). I think it would have been better to suggest him to go for second test to confirm his HIV positive status.
Anjali Singh
Training Officer, Family Health International
Let me first thank you for inviting us for the special screening of 68 pages. Personally after ages I have seen a film that touches a chord in my soul. I was deeply touched by the sensitivities in the film and the near perfect portrayal of characters by the mainstream actors. Technically your team has done a fantastic job and though this film being a narrative, it had all the ingredients of captivating the audience, and I was not an exception. For me this wasn’t just another viewing of a film but an experience that I would always cherish.

Being from a public health background, I cannot overemphasize the importance of a counselor’s role in shaping up lives of million people around you. And I am glad this film has provided a platform and given due respect to the breed of counselors which they have always deserved but were the unsung heroes of the medical fraternity.

This is also an eye opener for counselors, health care providers and the general population that a counselor if decides to perform the job expected out of them, they can provide million reasons for people to live with hope and dignity.

Counseling is much more than just providing health information or a basket of choices but its more about swapping the position of a counselor and a counselee to understand the emotional turmoil a beneficiary can be in. It’s not just a scratch of the skin talk but getting emotionally involved with the clients and making them feel that they are also an integral part of the society and providing reasons for them to be proud of.

Sridhar has done a fabulous job and have shown great courage in touching a subject which has always been a taboo. I hope this film will go a long way in educating masses and dispelling their fear regarding sero - positive people and help in reducing discrimination.
…………… breathtaking, captivating, motivating emotional saga is my only reaction to 68 Pages.

Well done. Cheers!!!!!!
Dr.Sachin Gupte
Senior Technical Officer, Family Health International
As an M & E person I must first commend the hard work the counselor who has documented all her valuable experience which provides rich data for further learning. I keep introducing myself to many people as an M & E officer who loves to “Speak to data”. Here is an example how a “data can speak for itself” and can make world of difference in lives of many. This is greatest respect for all the counselor who are working hard for making difference in the lives of many vulnerable population. According to me counselor position in HIV prevention and care and support programme is most crucial but has a factor of burnout. This is a real motivator for all those who are putting a lot of work.

Kudos to humsafar team which has worked hard under your leadership and not to forget the film crew under the leadership of Sreedhar in making this a truly memorable experience for all of us.
Virupax Ranebennur
M & E Officer, Family Health International
Thank you for using your very creative brain and bringing out the raw realities of life with a clear light of hope that life does not stop here it goes on and the dreams can be accomplished.

My next request will be that please look at the various sources of taking this forward to the larger masses, forums, civil societies and the 2% Decision makers, that we need to do things urgently with zeal and dedication.

It seems that I am exhausted with my limited knowledge of words to describe the penetration and impact of the film on me. I am still speechless and in discomfort.

May God bless you and the whole team for the quality research, the story and the planning.
Sanjeev Jain
Senior Programme Manager, Family Health International

Thank you for such a excellent film. I think the Counselors should learn few things through this film. One is that the Counselor in the film balanced her personal and professional life well. At times when she was going through her emotional problem, she never became weak nor did she make her clients become weak. Thanks again for a very good film.
Ashish Bosle
Programme Officer, FHI/FPAI Aastha Project

The Film was brilliant! Issues have been dealt with such sensitivity and depth. This film should definitely become 'compulsory' viewing in all counseling and HIV/AIDS related training programs.

I sincerely hope that you are able to get a commercial release. Wishing you and the HST team the very best ...always.
Senior Project Manager, FHI/FPAI Aastha Project

Thanks for the screening. Great Work! The movie inspires us to do more. Its all about how our efforts and gestures can bring a change in others' life. I was touched. Congrats to the team.
Seema Sayyed
Programme Officer, FPA India, Aastha Project

The film is wonderful, which will touch the heart of everyone. It is a very powerful film.
Swati Mohapatra
IEC/BCC Coordinator, Avert Society

"In short time lots of issues covered. Also helped to accept those who are not accepted by others. Great movie."
Pradnya Kharate Technical Officer, SOSVA

"It is excellent movie, which I seen first time, Good for everything."
Pramod Shinde Project Coordinator, NSVK

"Excellent movie, I really enjoyed. It touched to my heart, all the best."
Rukpali Goswami Counselor, CDI

Excellent. Life changing, attitude changing towards High Risk Groups. It should published to all the communities. It should released in theaters
Gaikwad Project Coordinator, Hope Foundation

"The movie was great, I want to give suggestion to you, if possible to put one meeting for all counselors and show this film to them. Great movie"
Jyoti Kasbe Counselor, Lokparishad

"One of the most wonderful film."
Pramod Humsaaya

"A good film, which can be used to sensitize the mass about HIV issues. Good work"
Rama Bhave Documentation Officer, Family Health International

"Thanks for providing such a good looking face, as a counselor. After watching the movie, I am realizing the responsibility."
Shabana Sheikh Counselor, SAI

"Today I think, How I am."
Prashant B. Shirsath Advocacy Officer, CORO

"Excellent Movie, A must see for the masses."
Dr. Vidyamala Technical Officer, Family Health International

"Good work done by research team as well as crew members, casting in film. It made us feel so touchy and we all were speechless"
Riji Nair Programme Officer, Family Planning Association of India-Aastha Project

"It is just excellent movie. The best part is counselor’s role and the song."
Sachin R Katlear Project Coordinator, NSP

"Excellent Movie"
Aashish A Sabale Advocacy Officer, SAI

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Not just another AIDS movie: Maker of Gulabi Aaina ready with 68 Pages

By : Piyush Roy, Sunday , October 07, 2007
Indian Express

Mira Nair’s AIDS JAAGO—a combination of four short films on AIDS-related cases from India also showcasing directors like Santosh Sivan, Vishal Bharadwaj, Farhan Akhtar—may have been courting news for its premiere at the recently concluded Toronto Film Festival, closer home, another director Sridhar Rangayan’s third film, 68 Pages, is doing the same—albeit quietly.
His film weaves together five empathetic Mumbai-based short stories revolving around AIDS victims from some of the marginalised sections of society like a sex worker, a transsexual bar dancer and a gay couple. The common thread is hope.

Rangayan, who had earlier made two films revolving around the Indian homosexual community including the critically acclaimed Gulabi Aaina (India’s first film on drag queens that made it to the official selection of over 30 international film festivals) says: “Though we have been making proposals to various bodies for the last two years for an advocacy film on the issue of AIDS amongst MSMs (men having sex with men/ homosexuals) and transgenders it didn’t progress beyond the concept note till a UK agency, DFID, chipped in early this year to produce it in association with the Humsafar Trust.”

Vivek Anand, executive producer and co-writer of 68 Pages—he is also CEO of Humsafar Trust—says: “We made it as a support to the National AIDS Control Programme Phase 3, which in its third and latest phase aims to focus on issues amongst homosexuals, transgenders, sex-workers and intravenous drug users, all of who find representation in the film.”

While three million people are estimated to be HIV positive in India today, according to the NSS 2005 survey, 7.5 per cent among MSMs, 8.5 per cent among sex-workers and 49 per cent among transgenders are reported to have tested positive, adds Anand.

68 Pages is based on real life experiences of Vrushali Deshmukh, a former counsellor with the Humsafar Trust. “She worked with us from 1999 to the fall of 2004 and handled over 6,000 cases involving MSMs and transgenders in Mumbai,” says Anand, adding, “And like her onscreen character Mansi, she too did go to the Columbia University to do her Masters in Public Health.”

Rangayan, who has for the first time opted for well-known faces from TV and theatre like Mouli Ganguly, Jayati Bhatia, Zafar Karachiwala and Joy Sengupta, says, “Known faces help in pushing an advocacy issue forward. We initially toyed with the idea of casting Smriti Irani or Mona Singh in the counsellor’s role because they are perceived as compassionate and strong characters, but then realised that their onscreen images of Tulsi and Jassi were too overbearing. So we zeroed in on Mouli Ganguly.”

Anand reveals that the entire cast and crew of 68 Pages worked at half their market prices for the film that was wrapped up in 11 days in Mumbai. “We made it at one per cent the budget of Salaam-e-Ishq and 10 perc ent of Bheja Fry,” says Rangayan.

Rangayan hopes the pre-release goodwill will contribute to him being third time lucky with the Indian Censor Board. Though internationally feted, both his previous films still await a censor certificate for an India screening. “We applied thrice with the board in Delhi for releasing my last film Yours Emotionally! But forget okaying it with a cut or two, they rejected it.”

Hopefully 68 Pages will have it better.

Screening at British Council

Where: British Council

When: Oct 3, 2007

Why: Screening of film '68 Pages'

Who: Dolly Thakore, Rahul D'Cunha, Narayani Shastri, Jayati Bhatia, Joy Sengupta

Wednesday evening saw more than hundred film enthusiasts come together at the British Council for a preview of Sridhar Rangayan's new film '68 Pages' which deals with HIV and marginalized people.

Theater actor Zafar Karachiwala, who also plays one of the lead character of a drug addict in the film, introduced the event. He said that such films were needed to bring awareness about HIV and other issues.

Rashmi Iyer, the treasurer of ABS (Association of British Scholars) who co-sponsored the event, said that their association was very happy to be part of such an event which combined art and humanity. She was all praise for the producer and director of the film who had taken the bold step to bring out such a film.

Vivek Anand, CEO of The Humsafar Trust, who has produced the film said that the film is part of the NGO's attempt, not only to control the epidemic within the gay and transsexual community, but also carry on advocacy about mainstreaming their issues.

The director of the film Sridhar Rangayan, whose earlier films 'Gulabi Aaina' and 'Yours Emotionally!' too had screened to packed houses at British Council surprised the audience by saying his film was not about HIV positive people. He elaborated, " My film is about the unknown Bombay. In this crowded metro, we are all so caught up with our careers, relationships and life in general that we have forgotten to pause and look at the person next to us - at an airport or caf or on the streets or for that matter even pause to see ourselves. This film is not a bugle call for action, but just a soft reminder to pause and reflect and make an effort to understand"

Present at the screening were Joy Sengupta and Jayati Bhatia who play important roles in the film as well as Narayani Shastri who has sung a song for the film, alongwith Sherrin Varghese of Band of Boys who has composed the song.

After the screening Dolly Thakore said that she had seen Rangayan's earlier films too, "but this is the best". Most of the audience felt that the characters of the transsexual bar dancer was so real and not caricaturized as in most films. Also the gay couple, for the first time was not stereotypical and non-effeminate.

An elderly gentleman Mr.Karani said, "Many years ago I had seen Meera Nair's Salaam Bombay which disturbed me. Now after so many years a film which has disturbed me again. It has made me think that though I am from Bombay, I am ignorant of it and many of its people. I thank the director for allowing me to peep into a different segment of Bombay which was unknown."