Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Sex, truth and videotape
- Georgina Maddox
Two boys meet, date, fall in love (and lust) and then, there is the all-important shot where one of the lovers reaches for the rubber. The underlying public service message, of having safe sex, cannot be missed. Almost every queer film that has made it to a multiplex or film festival, not only gets its funding but a good rating at the marquee, when HIV is the agenda. While this reinforces the link between queer and HIV/ AIDS, it seems to be the need of the hour.
From Onir’s sleeper hit My Brother Nikhil to Ashish Sawhny’s Happy Hookers and most recently 68 Pages, a film by Shridhar Rangayan (his Gulabi Aaina also had the protagonist deal with HIV), the message seems to be the same.
Ashok Row Kavi, founder of the Humsafar Trust, believes it to be a complex situation. “Men who have sex with men (MSM) and Trans-genders (TG) are most vulnerable, ” he says.
Vickram, of Gay Bombay, says cinema is an influential tool. “Condom should be shown in any gay sex scene in films,” he says. “At the risk of stereotyping, its okay to propagate HIV awareness .”
A telling scene is in Sawhny’s Happy Hookers, where a young gay sex worker talks about pleasing his client without a condom. The 22-year-old worker has only seen HIV campaigns for heterosexual couples and believes he’s not at risk.
Kavi says that several factors pressure MSM into unsafe sex. Gay married men operate underground, cross-dressers are open to stigma, some sex workers under caste pressure are criminalised and stigmatised.
Posted by 68 Pages - the film at 1:14 AM
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
(Audience reactions from the couple of previews held recently)
“The film is a sensitive and touching portrayal of marginalized communities.”
~ Dr. Rajeev Jerajani, psychiatrist
“I screen hundreds of films in this preview theatre but hardly watch them. Today, I just started watching and saw the entire film and had tears in my eyes.”
~ Projectionist, Star preview theatre, Mumbai
“Your film is a slap on the face of society.”
~ Gitanjali Dhulekar, a viewer
“Good Job…Good Performances”
~ Bindu Madhav Khire, Samapathik Trust, Pune
~ Sujal, a viewer
“Good Potential for mainstream”
~ Sanjay Thakur, a viewer
~ Kevin Menezes, a viewer
“I had actually come to attend another function at this venue but I did not leave the auditorium when I started seeing this film even though I realized my mistake. The film says a lot about HIV positive people.”
~ a viewer
“Never realized that people like Umrao exist in society. Umrao’s character is amazing.”
~ Avinash Mehto, Head of Avi Creations, an edit set-up
“The film was so compelling that I had to come for the second screening too”
~ Abhijit Aher, a viewer
“This film has inspired me and I want to become a counselor.”
~ Umang Sheth, a viewer
“For the first time, there’s a film that recognizes the efforts of counselors.”
~ Kalpita Patil-Lanjekar, a counselor
“In one stroke, you have made counselors more important than doctors and destroyed the myth that only doctors can help”
~ Dr. Maninder Setia, Ph.D. student at McGill University, Montreal
“The discrimination shown in the film is so real. We have seen it all and lived it all.”
~ Dr. Hemangi Jerajani, Head of the Department, Skin and Dermatology, LTMG Hospital, Mumbai
“A sensitive portrayal of a real-life counselor and a true profile of a TISS student.”
~ Brinelle D’Souza, professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
“Extremely touching and sensitive, the film deals with issues of HIV positive people in a real manner.”
~ Rita Sonawat, Head of the Department, Human Development, SNDT University, Mumbai
“I am grateful to Rita m’am for bringing me along to watch this film. It should be made mandatory viewing for all youth in the country.”
~ a student of SNDT University
“There are many times when I have gone home from work and cried for the pain of my counselees. And this film reflects my feelings.”
~ Rajashree, a counselor
“V. Good ! an eye opener ! Good educational film”
~ Kanchan Karani, a viewer
“The film is an eye-opener to the kind of good work being done with HIV positive people.”
~ Rekha Shah, a viewer
“Four years of my life flashed in front of my eyes. I thought I was reliving my life at Humsafar once again.”
~ Vrushali Deshmukh, ex-counseling head at The Humsafar Trust, Mumbai, the woman on whose experiences the film is based
Posted by 68 Pages - the film at 11:43 PM
A searingly honest film about five lives marked by pain and bound by hope - in 68 Pages of a counselor's diary. A transsexual bar dancer, a prostitute, a gay couple - characters often ignored by Bollywood take center stage to tell their stories of pain and trauma, of happiness and hope, of stories never dealt with sensitively.
A counselor’s ethics demand that she maintain confidentiality, be objective and not get emotional. But is it possible for a sensitive young woman like Mansi to remain unaffected? Her true feelings are reflected in the pages of her diary, in 68 Pages.
Through these pages we see the stories of Paayal, a sex worker; Nishit, an ID user; Kiran, a gay man and Umrao, a transsexual bar dancer – stories of being marginalized and discriminated before and after becoming HIV+. These stories have the capacity to touch, heal, change lives and hopefully bring about a better understanding of their fight to live with dignity.
The film is a tribute to the human spirit of optimism and survival.
Posted by 68 Pages - the film at 11:41 PM