World AIDS Day 2019: 5 Popular Films Touching Upon the Subject

Dallas Buyers Club(L) My Brother Nikhil (R)

Dallas Buyers Club(L) My Brother Nikhil (R)

The world of cinema too, has over the years, tried to portray the sensitive issue. Below are five popular films from Bollywood and Hollywood touching upon HIV and AIDS.

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First clinically observed in 1981 in the United States, HIV/AIDS is a major global public health issue that has seen approximately 37.9 million people living with it at the end of 2018, according to World Health Organzation or WHO. Though researchers are working round the clock to find a cure to the disease and organisations around the world try to aware people towards the disease, HIV/AIDS by large still remains a tabooed topic. The world of cinema too, has over the years, tried to portray the sensitive issue.

On World AIDS Day 2019, here's looking at 5 films that have tried to sensitively portray the issue through poignant portrayals.

Dallas Buyers Club

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee, the 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club starred Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto. In the film, Matthew McConaughey essays the role of Ron Woodroof, a person diagnosed with HIV in 1985, who is given 30 days to live – during a time when there was no treatment. He is soon ostracized by his family and friends who assumed that he contracted AIDS from homosexual relation. He even loses his job and evicted from family. He starts smuggling drugs from unapproved pharmaceutical into Texas for treating himself and establishes "Dallas Buyers Club" and starts to distribute drugs that he smuggled to those suffering from AIDS.


Released in 1993, Philadelphia, directed by Jonathan Demme, was one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to acknowledge HIV/AIDS, homosexuality and homophobia. The film starred Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Jason Robards, Mary Steenburgen and Antonio Banderas in pivotal roles. The film shows a senior associate at one of the largest corporate law firms in Philadelphia hiding his homosexuality and his HIV status from others in the firm and what happens when they find out. Hanks won the Best Actor award at the 66th Academy Awards for his role Andrew Beckett.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Directed by Bryan Singer, 2018 film Bohemian Rhapsody is a biographical film about Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of the British rock band Queen. Rami Malek essayed the role of Mercury in the film. During the course of the film, Freddie discovers that he has HIV/ AIDS, which he reveals to his band mates during a rehearsal. The film ends with the revelation that Freddie died on 24 November 1991 at 45 from AIDS-related pneumonia.

It is not just Hollywood, the stigma of HIV/AIDS have been showcased in a few Bollywood films too.

My Brother...Nikhil

Released in 2005, the Sanjay Suri, Juhi Chawla, Victor Banerjee and Purab Kohli starrer film showed the obstacles that Nikhil, the protagonist, faces after he is being diagnosed with HIV. The role is being played by Sanjay Suri. Nikhil in the film is a state-all-round swimming champion. After he tests positive for HIV, he is thrown out by his family from their home and is removed from the swimming team. Only Nikhil's elder sister Anamika (Juhi Chawla), her boyfriend Sam (Gautam Kapoor) and his boyfriend Nigel (Purab Kohli) stand by his side. The film is directed by Onir.

Phir Milenge

Starring Abhishek Bachchan, Salman Khan and Shipla Shetty in lead roles, the 2004 film talked about HIV/AIDS. The film directed by Revathi is inspired by Philadelphia, an American film which dealt about the same issue. In Phir Milenge, Shilpa Shetty's character Tamanna, who works as a creative head of a leading advertising agency, tests positive for HIV.

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