Church Produces Bollywood Aids Movie

AidsBollywood and the Roman Catholic Church in India have jointly produced a commercial film highlighting the problem of Aids. The controversial film-maker Mahesh Bhatt, whose films are known for steamy, bold scenes, has helped with the production.

Mahesh BhattThe low budget film, Why Does This Happen? cost nearly $288,000 and features the Bollywood staple of music and dance, releasing across India this weekend. This is the first time cinemas in Indian cities have shown a commercial film produced by a religious institution.

Father Dominic Emmanuel, who wrote the screenplay, says the church was worried about India's eroding values. Official statistics show India has five million HIV-positive people the world's highest number of HIV-positive cases, after South Africa. The film highlights the dangers of risky sex.

India's Roman Catholic Church has been worried about the breakdown in inter-community relationship and the rapid spread of Aids in the country.

Father Dominic says the church chose 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.

Christians make up about two per cent of India's population of more than one b