RIFF Movies Archive


United States, 2005, DVCAM - Color - 82

Neeraj Kumar

Neeraj Kumar

Maninder Goel/Neeraj Kumar


Child marriage is an award winning revealing best documentary that unveils a never before heard traditional practice where in children are engaged before they are born. Child marriages are illegal in India. This film juxtapositions opposing views about the tradition and practice of child marriages. Is child marriage a blessing or a children human rights issue? You decide. This is the central theme of this documentary. Child marriage is a tradition practiced in select parts of the world. UNICEF has declared this as a human rights issue. Neeraj the filmmaker, decided to embark on an exploratory journey of discovery. He focused on India, his home country, specifically the states of Rajasthan and Haryana.This film will reveal, for the first time, a never before heart fact, and that is, children getting engaged before they were born. No newspaper, TV program, film, or any other media has ever revealed this fact before. The Footage of the Child marriage film is unique and is being shown worldwide for the first time.In India, parents arrange the marriages of their children. Often times, the pundit matches the horoscopes of the couple in order to decide the suitability of the match. Every year, in the summer, there is one day when the couple can be married without consulting the horoscopes. This day is called “Akshay Teej”. “Abodh saave” are a few days around these days that are considered equally auspicious. Most arranged child marriages seem to happen around this time. Arranged child marriages seem to occur more in certain castes as compared to others.During his travels, Neeraj met with a number of children whose marriages had been arranged by their parents. He witnessed the marriages in backward castes, specifically, schedule tribes, schedule castes, and other backward castes.In a remote village, he met a pair of brothers belonging to the untouchable caste. There is a lot of discrimination against the people of this caste. Untouchables have the lowest status in Indian society and literally, the people of higher castes do not like to physically touch them or anything that they have touched. This is a social injustice is a human rights issue.Neeraj also met with some snake charmers in India. Snake charmers are banned in India and yet they can be found lurking in hidden pockets of society. This is an animal rights issue.During his travels, Neeraj passed by long forgotten historical places that have romantic stories associated with them. He also visited a Sati temple. Such temples are banned in India because this is a woman rights issue. A Sati is a woman (widow) who is cremated alive with her husband’s dead body.The film also shows unique folk dances and music from Rajasthan.Neeraj interviewed an UNICEF official, the parents of children being married, village government official, adults who were married when they were children, and parents who will marry their kids in the coming years.

The subject of child marriage is close to my heart. This best documentary award winning film is a fruit of three long years of research, planning and sheer hard work. I had to shoot this film guerrilla style because such marriages are illegal in India. For the first time I have revealed the truth (in the media) about little children getting engaged before they are born! The film, Child Marriage, has been a fulfilling experience. Now, I am working on two other projects related to India, it’s society and environs.




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