Obstacles in the path of true, undying love has set the stage for many a story; Romeo and Juliet is perhaps the most famous example in literature. While things might have changed for the better in many places, these prejudices still persist in Nepal. Particularly in rural areas. Many families still abide by old-fashioned perceptions regarding inter-caste marriages—a source of despair for many young people in love.
It is with the express intention of demonstrating these bitter truths that African writer and filmmaker Dila Dilman’s documentary Untouchable Love was created. The film was shown at Moksh in Jhamsikhel on July 28, and projects the poignant love stories of five dalit couples, who have eloped in order to escape the wrath of their families. The 90-minute documentary is an artistic portrayal of the lives of young people in villages and particularly interesting is the depiction of courtship rituals among the youth. Also significant is its treatment of the post-elopement struggles, where these inter-caste couples often find that living away from society and family members can be extremely difficult, both financially and emotionally.
The documentary sheds light on the social traits inherent in dalit communities all over Nepal. Kishor and Ranjana, for instance, are a couple from Sapatari, where Kishor belongs to a lower-caste dalit family, which was the reason for them having eloped. Somewhat similar are the experiences of Saraswoti and Shyam from Morang and Manoj and Parbati from Saptari. Khadga and Jaisara, who run off into the jungle at night in a bid to stay together provide a touching, tragic account of young love, while the case of Rajib and Sabina—who were said to have committed suicide—has an air of mystery about it in terms of questioning whether there was foul play involved in their deaths.
Dilman has also interspersed these stories with interviews with a number of experts on the issue at hand, including a prominent sociologist and a Hindu priest. The documentary is a simple and very concise exploration of a subject that has been part of the Nepali culture-scape for centuries, and the negative consequences of social restrictions surrounding marriage and the caste system.
The film was made with the support of Voluntary Service Overseas in association with the European Union and NNDSWO (Nepal National Dalit Social Welfare Organisation). Proceeds from DVD sales will be donated to needy couples struggling to make a living in circumstances similar to those depicted in the stories.
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Source: The Kathmandu Post