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HIV+ children's story

Pushing back their real life woes, they are entering into a new world of reel life.

india Updated: May 05, 2006 03:00 IST

Pushing back their real life woes, they are entering into a new world of reel life. Once they were ostracized and haunted, but now the HIV-infected Akshara and her little brother Anandu are celebrities in their own right. After cutting innumerable ribbons and lighting lamps, now they are putting the grease paint for a short film.

Eleven-year-old Akshara and Anandu (9), residents of Kottiyoor in Kannur district, had to fight several battles for their right to education. Citing their HIV-status, the local Sree Narayana Mission School had expelled both from their school. A subject of ridicule and discrimination for almost two years, they fought their way to their school opening many eyes.

"First phase of shooting is over. Both of them are perfect in their new roles," their proud mother Rema, also an HIV-positive, told the Hindustan Times. Agreed T P Rajan, the producer of the film, 'Nelbariyile Amma' (Mother of Nelbari): "Akshara is really talented. She has the mettle of a good actress. Though Anandu is a slow-learner, he is improving fast."

The story based on the novel of Abdullah Perambra revolves around the lonely life of a grandmother enacted by well-known actress Bindu Panickker. Leading a solitary and secluded life, a group of mischief-mongering children tries to add some colour to granny's life.

"First phase of shooting is over. Thanks to these kids we are getting enough inquiries," claimed Rajan, a Gulf-returnee fond of taking up social issues.

After their heroic battle, Anandu and Akshara, had turned celebrities with many social organizations and institutions vying for them to inaugurate their functions and meets. "That is our main source of income these days. Recently they inaugurated the Kozhikode University inter-zone festival," Rema is happy that her children are getting their due.

Her husband, Shiju Kumar, a Mumbai-returned auto mechanic, died of AIDS in 2003. Soon she and her two children tested HIV-positive. Eldest daughter Athira (14) is negative though. Now, Rema works as a 'positive speaker' with a voluntary organization.