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Sure, positive...

Nithya Subramanian

Noted musicians pitch in for a music video that celebrates the fighting spirit of HIV-positive people.


Manika Sharma with singer Shaan.

Tod do deewaren (Let's break these walls)

Gaaye milke saare

Geet yeh. (as we come together to sing this song)

Chhu kissi ke dil ko (Touch a heart)

Chhune se badhhta hai

Pyaar to. (this will make love grow)

Aa gale lag jaa re (Come close and give me a hug)

Aa gale lag jaa. Aa gale lag jaa re. Aa bhi jaa.

An inspiring song that talks about togetherness, acceptance and offering a helping hand to people living with HIV/AIDS. One that brings a tear to your eye, a smile on your face and a surge in adrenalin... all at the same time.

For World AIDS Day on December 1, musicians from across the country have come together to lend their voice to an anthem that could well be compared to `We are the World' — the 1985 rock song sung by US artists to express solidarity with the famine-hit people in Africa.

`Tod Do Deewaren' is a song about not being judgmental, about togetherness, love and the triumph of the human spirit against all odds. The credit for the superbly crafted song goes to Manika Sharma, who conceptualised and directed the music video. Manika is a vivacious young person who is trying to make a mark in the film industry.

"The idea of a music video came to me early this year when I felt that I had to do something for people living with HIV/AIDS. I made a proposal to the UNAIDS team in India and they were more than happy to back the project. Music has a healing touch and they felt this would be a great idea," she says. She is currently putting the finishing touches to the video.

The inspiration for the music and the images came directly from Positive people. "I got in touch with Positive people and they told me that the song should be a happy one. They did not want to cry for help. The song should provide hope and love," she says. The interaction with people living with HIV/AIDS was also a kind of catharsis for Manika. "It was a great process. The hard times were quite depressing. But the die-hard spirit of the people really touched me," she says.

The video also traces the true story of Benson and Bensy, a brother and sister from Kerala, who were asked to leave school when found to be HIV positive. Their parents had died of AIDS and the children were living with their grandmother at the time. Protests from different quarters helped the children get back to school.

"Benson and Bensy's is the story of millions of children across the world who face discrimination," says Manika. The cause brought together several big names in the music industry.

The melody was created by Jatin-Lalit, lyrics were penned by Abbas Tyrewala of Munnabhai MBBS fame, and the singers included Shaan, Amit Kumar, Sonu Nigam, Sukhwinder, Pandit Jasraj, Alka Yagnik, Udit Narayan, Sunidhi Chauhan and Shreya Goshal. Even broadcasters have been roped in. MTV, Channel [V], Sahara and Sony have offered free airtime.

"The song echoes the emotion that there is no problem, no physical condition that we cannot rise above, together. `Tod Do Deewaren' is a voice of hope for the world," signs off Manika.

Smoke signals

Messages seem to pack a better punch when delivered by celebrities. Hriday, a Delhi-based Non-government Organisation, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have together worked on a series of anti-tobacco campaigns.

Bollywood actress Urmila Matondkar and veteran actor Shashi Kapoor talk about their tryst with tobacco and the toll it takes on the body. Besides the celebrities, common folk also talk about the problems caused by tobacco consumption. A man on the street says a one-rupee pack of ghutka has led to oral cancer and several lakh rupees spent on treatment.

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