Thirteen million hits for the Tigers trailer as the film based on a Nestle baby milk whistleblower is premiered worldwide.
Over 11 million people have so far watched the youtube trailer for the eagerly awaited feature film Tigers, by Oscar-winning director Danis Tanovic (“No Man’s Land”), co-written with Andy Paterson (“Girl with a Pearl Earring”, “The Railway Man”) which premieres worldwide today on the Zee5 platform and is currently showing in selected UK cinemas.
Tigers is based on the true story of a former Nestlé baby milk salesman in Pakistan called Syed Aamir Raza (played in the film by major Bollywood star Emraan Hashmi) taking on the industry with the help of Baby Milk Action and IBFAN (the International Baby Food Action Network) when he realises that babies are dying as a result of his work pressuring doctors to promote formula.
A Zee Original film, Tigers plays on the Zee5.com platform and will later be shown on the Zee TV channel. Cinema screenings of Tigers are taking place across the UK alongside the digital launch.
The film dramatises how Aamir (called “Ayan” in the film) was a successful – and well paid – baby milk salesman with the transnational company (called “Lasta” in the film), until he saw a dying baby that had become sick after being denied the protection its mother’s breastmilk would have given. Aamir resigned his job and then worked to expose the unethical practices used to persuade doctors to push formula, even to mothers in poor conditions without access to safe water or adequate sanitation.
‘The mission we began in Pakistan was on a very small scale, but thanks to the filmmakers it has come into a very powerful medium to reach people all around the world. I am grateful to everyone who worked on this film and made it possible. It is amazing that millions of people have already watched the trailer and I hope many, many millions of people will watch the full film and then take action to support IBFAN and stop unethical marketing. While it is, of course, a dramatisation, it very accurately portrays the situation my family and I lived through and the practices I realised needed to end to save babies’ lives.”
Mike Brady, who worked with Baby Milk Action’s IBFAN partners in Pakistan to bring Aamir’s evidence to a global audience, said:
“Co-writers Danis and Andy have done an amazing piece of work. Tigers accurately captures the tension of these true events when we were trying to bring Aamir’s evidence of marketing malpractice to public attention in a way that would keep him safe. With a deft touch they also show the power of corporations and the challenges campaigners and journalists face in exposing them. Tigers will grip you whether you are interested in the baby milk issue or not.”
Patti Rundall OBE, Baby Milk Action Policy Director, said:
“IBFAN’s documentary evidence shows clearly that Nestlé and other baby milk companies continue to put their own profits before infant health through marketing a growing range of products in ways that undermine breastfeeding. In doing so they ignore the clear marketing standards agreed by the World Health Assembly. Tigers is a powerful way to show the impact.
The story highlights how companies use sponsorship to buy the loyalty of health professionals. Nestlé recently cancelled a sponsored event targeting paediatricians after our IBFAN colleagues in India raised concerns over the conflicts of interest. We need governments to take more action on this issue. 37 countries prohibit baby food companies from sponsoring health professionals meetings, but only 14 prohibit them from using health facilities to host events, contests or campaigns.
Because of better access to health care and marketing controls, the number of babies who die because they are not breastfed has been reduced from 1.4 million a year to 883,000. However, with the threat of climate change and other factors, the world is still a cruel and unequal place for children. More than one third of the world’s population, 2.5 billion people, have no adequate sanitation. In any part of the world artificial feeding increases the risk of infection, but in such conditions breastfeeding, including breastfeeding beyond the first year of life, can be a lifeline.” (1)
Aamir currently lives in Toronto with his family. When Tigers was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival, Aamir was presented with a letter from the Canadian Government by the then Minister for Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, which said in part:
“The account of Mr. Raza’s principled stand in defence of the health of babies and their families is one that deserves to be told, and one which reflects the best of Canadian values….
“As Minister for Multiculturalism, I would like to commend you for your bravery and to thank you for sharing your story with the world.”
(1) A new information note by WHO highlights the importance of marketing controls that protect continued breastfeeding. Companies have invented a whole range of unnecessary products, that target the older baby – just to expand the market that is already worth an estimated $70 billion each year. These products will be hotly debated at the UN Codex trade discussions taking place in Berlin this week.