Mumbai: Church makes Bollywood Aids film

 The Catholic Church in India has collaborated with Bollywood to make a commercial film highlighting the problem of Aids.

The movie: Aisa Kyon Hota Hai (Why Does This Happen?), was released across the country on Friday.

India has the world's highest number of HIV-positive cases, after South Africa. More than five million have tested positive million according to official statistics.

Father Dominic Emmanuel, who wrote the screenplay, said the Church is worried about the breakdown in inter-community relationship and the rapid spread of Aids in the country.

Father Dominic said the church decided to spread their message through the popular medium of Bollywood because of its wide reach.

He believes the film - made in collaboration with YMCA and some other non-government organisations - is not preachy but has a strong message.

"The film highlights the dangers of risky sex," he says.

It also spreads the message of religious harmony in a country which has experienced Hindu-Muslim clashes and where attacks on churches and Christians have been on the rise in recent years.

The film has some big names. Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt assisted in the direction. Bollywood heroine Rati Agnihotri, who made her debut in 1981 with the hit film Ek Duje Ke Liye (For Each Other), plays the role of a single mother who raises her son. Newcomer Aryan Vaid, plays the role of the son who contracts Aids through unsafe sex.

The movie also features music from popular singers Sunidhi Chauhan, Sonu Nigam and Alka Yagnik.

All profits from the film, which cost just $288,000 to make, will be spent on good causes, Father Emmanuel said.

Christians make up about two per cent of India's population of more than one billion people. This is the first time cinemas in Indian cities have shown a commercial film produced by a religious institution.

MUMBAI - 20 February 2006 - 215 words

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