December #140 : Wake Up, India - by Kellee Terrell

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Precious Stone

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Wake Up, India

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December 2007


Wake Up, India

by Kellee Terrell

What began as a conversation about poor AIDS awareness in India has become one of the year’s most buzzworthy films. AIDS JaaGo—funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—is a series of four vignettes directed by Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, The Namesake) and three other Indian filmmakers. The word jaaGo is Hindi for awake. “Even though AIDS is a huge issue in India, the culture does not talk about sex very often,” says the drama’s associate producer, Ami Boghani. “But in India, the film industry has so much influence.” Boghani adds that Nair had problems getting some South Asian A-listers to sign on: “They were afraid of what might happen if they were associated with the disease.” Nair’s persistence paid off: Some of Bollywood’s best appear.  

The film’s characters include a closeted positive husband, a newly diagnosed young man and an abandoned boy searching for his mother. It will be shown in at-risk areas in India—but wherever there’s HIV, there’s risk, and the film plans to go global. “Every day we get calls from distributors all over the world who want to show the film in their country,” Boghani says. Ask for it in yours.


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