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Copyright for the journal © 2005
M. S. Thirumalai
A ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH MOVIE ON HIV/AIDS IN INDIA
M. S. Thirumalai
A MOVIE BY THE INDIAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
India produces the largest number of movies every year. Movies are made in every major language of the country. That means movies are made at least in about 18 languages every year. The most popular pastime for Indian households is to watch movies, either in theaters or on small screens in their homes. In a recent election, one of the leading political parties promised poor people that if they came to power they would distribute color TVs free. They have come to power, and plans are afoot to distribute free color TV sets to the poor and needy. Movies and TV are seen to be a great means to spread the message of hope, education, developing skills useful for life, etc.
So, when Indian Roman Catholic Church joined hands with Indian film industry and produced a movie recently it was indeed contextualization of Christian theology! The movie was presented just like another movie, but it carried a message of great importance for Indians - not on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but on HIV/AIDS.
SAFE SEX, HIV/AIDS, AND ALL
The title of the movie in Hindi reads, "Why Does This Happen?" The movie is about safe sex and inter-religious harmony. The Catholic spokesman agreed that the movie was not an attempt to entertain the faithful, but to educate them as well as many others who are ignorant of the causes and consequences of devastating HIV/AIDS in India.
The storyline is very simple: A single mother's son who is a sportsman and brilliant student in school has no respect for women and social norms relating to gender relations. He flirts with many, and plays around a bit, and contracts HIV. He also infects one of his girl friends. The movie focuses on his agonizing life's struggle. The film also focuses on the need for inter-religious harmony between Hindus and Muslims in India. Stigma attached to single mothers, legitimacy of their children and how children have to struggle to gain respect also form part of the storyline.
Wire services reported, "with 5.13 million cases, India ranks second only to South Africa in terms of the number of people inflected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. People infected with the virus any number of prejudices, from difficulty getting into schools to hospitals refusing to treat them."
FOCUSING ON TRADITIONAL VALUES, NOT ADEQUATE
The focus of the movie is to reinforce the traditional values of the Indian society, which highly encourages steady marriage. Young people take advantage of the anonymity of cities to indulge in ways that are generally not approved in Indian society. Despite the prevalence of temple prostitution in certain parts of India, prostitution per se is seen as a vice that should be avoided.
The problem with this movie is that one is left with the impression that well-meaning secular efforts will lead to lasting changes in the situation. Neither these efforts nor continuing emphasis on restoring traditional values will be adequate to meet the challenge. The spiritual side of the problem needs to be emphasized with great finesse even in religiously pluralistic and volatile societies in nations such as India.
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Ransomed for Blessing - 1 Timothy 2:5-6 | Work Out What God Works In | What Is Life and What Does It Mean to Live? | Importance of the 10/40 Window | A Roman Catholic Church Movie on HIV/AIDS In India | Some Points for Evangelism Among the Muslims | CONTACT EDITOR | HOME PAGE
M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
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