9 Bollywood Movies That Dealt With The Stigma Of AIDS / HIV

9 Bollywood Movies That Dealt With The Stigma Of AIDS / HIV View All Articles

Posted On: 01 Dec 2021 | Last Updated: 01 Dec 2021

Despite living in the 21st century, talking about a topic as sensitive as HIV/AIDS is considered taboo by many. Thus, Bollywood too hesitates to talk about the disease, however, the Indian film industry has contributed to raising awareness about the disease by once in a while coming up with Bollywood movies that are centered around the theme of AIDS or based on HIV/AIDS awareness. There are many ways to spread awareness about a disease, however, creating a movie about the topic targets a much larger audience, thus making more people aware. Making a movie about such a delicate topic is not easy, filmmakers have to understand and many times go through the trauma associated with AIDS, and empathize with the patients in order to show the reality of the disease and its effects on the lives of the patient and his/her family. On the occasion of World AIDS Day, we present to you 9 touching and poignant Bollywood movies that raised HIV/AIDS awareness.

1. Naya Zaher (1991)

Jyoti Swaroop’s 1991 adult thriller drama, Naya Zaher was India’s first feature film to talk about HIV/AIDS. The movie was one of its kind where the real villain wasn’t a person but the disease. The movie features actors like Navin Nischol, Satabdi Roy, Arjun (Firoz Khan), Uttam Mohanty and Disco Shanti. It revolves around illegal smuggling of drugs and talks about how AIDS actually spreads, raising awareness about the disease. It throws light and talks about the most controversial topic of its time – HIV/AIDS. The movie went unnoticeable, but was a good try to spread awareness about the disease.

Naya Zaher

2. Nidaan (2000)

Mahesh Manjrekar’s 2000 family drama, Nidaan revolves around a young girl named Soumya Nadkarni (Nisha Bains). Soumya is the only daughter of her doting parents and has the best of everything. However, her perfect life turns into a nightmare when she tests positive for HIV. She learns that she contracted the disease during the blood transfusion at the blood donation drive. Soumya faces the discrimination of the society and everyone shuns her. However, she finds support from her loving boyfriend and her parents, who stand by her side all along. The movie is not syrupy sweet as the reality intrudes as we see Soumya continuously being bullied by her callous people and her struggle to be admitted into the best hospital for her treatment. The movie was declared tax-free, and taught everyone a lot.


3. My Brother… Nikhil (2005)

Set in Goa between 1986 and 1994, My Brother… Nikhil became a controversial movie after the director of the movie, Onir stated that it was based on true historical facts, but had to add the disclaimer about the fictitious content in the movie to gain permission from the government to make the movie. The title character of the film, Nikhil (Sanjay Suri) is a swimming champion, but his life takes a turn when he is diagnosed with HIV. His parents and friends desert him and he is arrested and kept in isolation because he is HIV positive. In his toughest times, he finds support from his sister Anamika (Juhi Chawla) and his friend Nigel (Purab Kohli), who fight for his rights and secure his release. Despite facing threats, Anamika and Nigel go on to support Nikhil. This critically acclaimed film clearly shows unawareness and the continuous ignorance of the society about HIV/AIDS because of its sensitive nature.

My Brother… Nikhil

4. Phir Milenge (2004)

Directed by Revathi, the 2004 film Phir Milenge was inspired by American film Philadelphia, which was one of the first mainstream HIV/AIDS awareness movies or simply the film that acknowledged the disease. The film was critically acclaimed and earned several Filmfare nominations. It revolves around an ambitious woman named Tamanna Sahni (Shilpa Shetty), whose life takes a turn after her encounter with her college sweetheart Rohit (Salman Khan). The two share intimate moments, and later Tamanna discovers that she is HIV positive. Following which she loses her job. Angered by the mistreatment of her employer, Tamanna decides to take help of law, but no lawyer agrees to take her case. She eventually finds help from the lawyer Tarun Anand (Abhishek Bachchan), who agrees to fight her case. They finally win the case, which they lost initially and Tamanna goes on to start her own business venture.

Phir Milenge

5. Dus Kahaniyaan – Zahir (2007)

Dus Kahaniyaan is the 2007 anthology film comprising ten short films telling different stories, which are directed by six directors – Sanjay Gupta, Apoorva Lakhia, Meghna Gulzar, Rohit Roy, Hansal Mehta and Jasmeet Dhodhi. Out of these ten short films, Sanjay Gupta’s Zahir touches on the topic of AIDS. The story revolves around Saahil (Manoj Bajpayee), who moves to his friend’s apartment after facing rejection from his girlfriend. There he meets a girl named Sia (Diya Mirza), and falls in love with her. However, Sia rejects his love. Saahil learns that Sia is a bar dancer and intoxicated by her truth he rapes her. Next day, Sia leaves with a note informing Saahil that she has AIDS and her rejection for Saahil’s love was for his health and wellbeing. Many years later, guilt-ridden Saahil narrates the story and waits for death.

Dus Kahaniyaan – Zahir

6. 68 Pages (2007)

Directed by Sridhar Rangayan, the 2007 film 68 Pages is about an HIV/AIDS counsellor and her five clients from different backgrounds. This is one of the best Bollywood movies that generated awareness on HIV/AIDS and perfectly portrays the stigma associated with the disease. Being a sensitive person, it becomes difficult for Mansi (Mauli Ganguly) – the counsellor to be unaffected by the stories of her clients including Paayal (Jayati Bhatia) – a sex worker, Nishit (Zafar Karachiwala) – a drug user, Kiran (Joy Sengupta) – a gay man, and Umrao (Uday Sonawane) – transgender bar dancer. These people even suffered the discrimination of society before being infected by the disease, merely because they were different. The professional ethics demands Mansi to maintain confidentiality about her clients, so she expresses her true feelings in the 68 pages of her personal diary.

68 Pages

7. AIDS JaaGO (2009)

AIDS JaaGO is the anthology of four short dramatic films directed by acclaimed directors: Mira Nair, Vishal Bhardwaj, Santosh Sivan and Farhan Akhtar. The four short films – Migration, Blood Brothers, Positive and Prarambha – come from different parts of the country and portray the stigma related to the disease from different angles. The motive of the film was to tear apart the myths and misconceptions related to HIV/AIDS by spreading awareness about the disease with provocative stories.


8. Aashayein (2010)

Nagesh Kukunoor’s Aashayein is not entirely about AIDS. The movie revolves around a compulsive gambler named Rahul (John Abraham), who finds out that he is suffering from cancer, and the news changes his life forever. He moves to the rehabilitation centre for the people suffering from incurable diseases. There he meets several people, including a prostitute named Madhu (Farida Jalal), who is suffering from AIDS. How the residents of the rehabilitation centre grow closer over the time and become each other’s hope during their toughest times forms the rest of the plot.


9. Safe (2017)

The 2017 romantic drama Safe stars Amit Vashisth, Dimple and Nishant Garg in the lead roles. The movie revolves around three inseparable best friends Samar, Chirag and Vaidyav, who are in the final year of college and enjoy their life to the fullest. However, their perfectly happy life takes a turn when one of the friend’s tests HIV positive. Their friendship is tested; however, they must stick together and support each other during this tough time to overcome it and make things better.