Priest goes to Bollywood

Bhatt to helm low-budget pic

NEW DELHI — New Delhi-based Roman Catholic priest Father Dominic Emmanuel has joined with a Bollywood producer to make a film highlighting the perils of risky sex practices.

Worried about the breakdown of traditional family values in India, the priest decided the only way to reach the country’s youth is through the medium they enjoy most — Bollywood movies. The feature includes singing, dancing, romance and drama.

The hero, however, is living with HIV/AIDS.

Bollywood producer-director Mahesh Bhatt and his Vishesh Films have agreed to help Father Dominic market the low-budget effort, entitled “Aisa Kyon Hota Hain” (Why Does This Happen). Bhatt, known for his steamy suspense movies, also is there to ensure the film “does not become preachy,” Dominic says.

Pic stars Bollywood’s Rati Agnihotri as a single mother raising a son who becomes a playboy and becomes infected with HIV.

“The film deals with the consequences of this,” says Emmanuel, adding that far from being bleak, it offers a message of hope and love.

His bosses from the Catholic Church of India backed his cinematic vision, with the result that the church is making its first foray into Bollywood.

The Hindu-language film, set for release in July or August, will be dubbed into the southern Indian language of Tamil and possibly Telugu as many of India’s 5.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS are in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

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