On June 7, 2007, Dylan Mohan Gray decided to make a movie that challenged some of the biggest pharmaceutical companies of the world. Fire in the Blood tracks the story of how Western pharmaceutical companies and certain governments deliberately blocked access to affordable AIDS drugs for countries in Africa and the global south, causing more than ten million unnecessary deaths. It also talks about the impossibly courageous group of people who decided to fight back.
“I remember the exact day because I was working on another project at the time, a fiction film, but woke up that day somehow knowing I would have to put that other one aside and make Fire in the Blood. I suppose it was becoming obvious to me that the story was beginning to be lost because it hadn’t been properly documented and I realised that to wait another 2 or more years to make it, would be potentially fatal to the project,” says Gray.
The story had been running in the back of his mind constantly, ever since he read an article that talked about the subject, back in 2004. “I was struck first by the magnitude of the crime, but also by the fact that I knew so little about it and that generally there was little to be found on the subject. It soon became obvious that there were a lot of vested interests who preferred this story not be told, to be buried, which I guess to someone like me is a bit like waving a red cloth in front of a bull,” says Gray.
For Gray, making the film was about changing people’s perceptions about the world they live in. “You want to grab them and shake them up a little bit. That can be pleasant, unpleasant or a little bit of both. I think most people would say that not enough films do that and certainly Indian cinema could use a lot more ambition in this area, though I would say things have incrementally begun to improve on that front. In the specific case of Fire in the Blood, I would also like people to know about a gigantic, genocidal scam being perpetrated against all of us, and to make it clear that change is both eminently possible and an absolute necessity,” he explains.
Gray learned a lot about filmmaking in India, during his time spent making Fire in the Blood here. “It’s a combination of being courageous and also thorough. If you come across a story, don’t be afraid to think of it as a film. But at the same time, ideas are cheap. You have to understand your subject and show that there really is a film there which can transcend all of the other material coming through. I usually recommend making a 8-10 minute teaser on the subject to show potential partners both that you’re really serious about making the film and also that there is a viable film to be found in the story you’re proposing to tell,” he advises.
The DVD of Fire in the Blood should be available by the end of 2013. “I would love for the film to be broadcast on television in India but we haven’t inked a deal for that,” says Gray, who is currently busy promoting the movie throughout the world and at the same time working on “several strong ideas, a couple of which are quite far along.”