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|August 1, 2000||
Art for heart's sakeKanchana Suggu
Death. It is like the end of a road, a conclusion, an inescapable reality, a dark reality, a full stop... over... finished... dead...
I remember someone saying, once, "What is it about death that mocks men silently for believing in their immortality?" That statement comes to mind in the wake of watching Nidaan -- Death does mock at each one of us for loving someone, for assuming that he or she will always be with us no matter what, for our faith in life and above all, God himself.
Nidaan challenges this very belief of a middle-aged couple, when they learn that the apple of their eyes -- their bubbly teenage daughter -- is diagnosed HIV positive. R V Pandit's movie (christened by none other than Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee himself) Nidaan -- the title means 'diagnosis' -- is thus a hard-hitting story about the deadly virus that consumes the human body, and its impact on those near and dear to the afflicted.
Aniruddha Nadkarni (Shivaji Satam) and Suhasini Nadkarni (Reema Lagoo) are the proud parents of Soumya (Nisha Bains). Life for Soumya is as normal as it could be for any 12th standard science student. Ban on films, no meeting boyfriend Ninad (Sunil Barve), parents keeping a watchful eye on her studies, mother nagging constantly, parents' dream of their meritorious daughter pursuing higher studies in the IIT... until one day, following an unremitting fever, Soumya has to undergo a medical examination.
The diagnosis: HIV positive, contracted due to a blood transfusion during an appendicitis operation done some years back.
Life comes to a standstill for the devastated Nadkarnis. And they decide to make the most of whatever little time they have with their daughter. Soumya too, on learning of her condition a couple of months later, helps her parents come to terms with the stark reality.
The film, to say the least, is touching. Time and again, it shakes you; every so often, you find your eyes misting over with tears. Produced by R V Pandit, Nidaan is Mahesh Manjrekar's directorial debut. For Pandit, it is his third production after Gulzar's Maachis and Kalpana Lajmee's Darmiyaan.
The songs are eminently forgettable, and technically, too, the film lacks that certain finesse. But the flaws are more than offset by the honesty of the message. Overall, thus, the film comes across as educative without going over the top, sensitive without being melodramatic. And it has noteworthy performances by Nisha Bains and veterans Shivaji Satam and Reema Lagoo. Debutante Nisha Bains in particular is brilliant as the AIDS victim. Actor Sunil Barve completes the ensemble cast to perfection.
Producer Pandit has been involved in social work for the past 28 years, the last ten of which have been dedicated to the cause of AIDS victims. Today, as per Government of India figures (the actual figures are said to be far higher), there are around four million AIDS victims in the country. And the only way to eradicate this evil is to educate the masses through whatever medium possible. Pandit, thus, has promised to give his film free, and even personally underwrite the theatre rentals and other costs of screening, to any person or organisation that wants to hold a charity show for AIDS or Blood Donation-related cause.
While the film, in the main, attempts to educate people about AIDS and its impact, there is an equally powerful subtext, wherein the film-makers appeal for a more sympathetic approach towards victims of the disease. The film, thus, seeks to enlist public sympathy for the victims, while telling us that they do not deserve to be ostracised.
Pandit has chosen to convey these two essential messages through the medium of film, and it must be said sans doubt that he has succeeded.
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