Pani Puri can't give you AIDS, says a witty short film to children

Most of the time, public service ads on AIDS and HIV are usually too preachy for kids to watch and understand the subject. A new short film, (aids + b)2, hopes to work as an ice-breaker to help adults open up a conversation on the subject with children. The 13-minute short tells the story of a 10-year-old boy named Morris (played by Morris Jeyachandran), who thinks that he has contracted AIDS after eating pani puri.

Filming the short on locationFilming the short on location

"The story is partly based on a true incident. When I was 10, I once saved money and ate something from the street on my way to a dance class. Later on, I started questioning the hygiene and because of half-baked knowledge, thought I had AIDS.

Morris (right) in a still from (aids +b)2
Morris (right) in a still from (aids +b)2

Kids used to pass a lot of baseless rumours around, like if you drink a particular juice you will get AIDS because some employee has put his blood in it. I couldn’t confide in my parents as they would shout at me for eating outside," says 25-year-old filmmaker Venky AV, who has directed the short. Venky, who works as a Creative Executive with Percept Pictures has made corporate films and the documentary on DJ Hardwell’s India visit in the past. He had been trying to make this film for two years now, and finally managed to complete it after the company backed it. The director’s motive was to make a social awareness film that balances education with entertainment.

Director Venky AV
Director Venky AV

The lead members of the cast are non-actors and are a family in real life (Venky’s mother makes an appearance as well, as Morris’ history teacher). Venky, who is the founder of B-Boying academy Freak N Stylz, knew Morris, as he is his student.

"I chose to cast Morris’ actual family as having non-actors who aren’t related to each other, would put them out of their comfort zone and make it seem artificial. We even shot in their home to give it a realistic vibe. You will see that they speak a little Tamil in between frames, which came naturally," he shares. The actors went through several rehearsals and training to get their parts right. The director and the company hopes that schools will come forward to have the film screened in their institutions to help start a conversation on the taboo subject.

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