I the director made this film in a period of two years, while I worked in Nepal as a volunteer with VSO. Before that, I spent about a whole year researching on the subject of inter-caste relationships and contentious marriages. When I started thinking of making a documentary about illicit love, I thought of going to a fundamentalist Muslim country, where honor killings are common if a woman marries for love against her father’s wishes. However, I discovered that the plight of women in Muslim countries already has the attention of the international community, mostly because of the 9/11 catastrophe. Yet, the more numerous Hindu women have suffered in silence for thousands of years, and the Western powers pay a deaf ear to their pleas because they do not view Hinduism as a threat to their interests.
At first, I wanted to go to India. I applied to Volunteer Services Overseas, but rarely do they grant you a request to work in a country of your wish. Since I had shown interest in South Asia, I was offered a placement in Bangladesh and Nepal. I chose Nepal, which until 2008 was a Hindu kingdom.
While in Nepal, I worked with the oldest dalit organization, Nepal National Dalit Social Welfare Organization, whose aim is to uplift the rights and standards of living of untouchables. I lived in a rural area in the Far Western district of Nepal, Kailali, in Danghadi town, and this kind of environment enabled me to research on the cultures as a participant observer. Most of the crimes against inter-caste couples happen in the rural areas, where the caste system is followed strictly, and being in close contact with inter-caste couples gave me an insider’s view of their experiences. It did help a lot that I managed to master the Nepali language within two months of arriving in Kailali.
Once I had my story ready, the problem of financing the project presented itself. I knew I had to make it before my contract with VSO ends, otherwise I would not have found another chance. But VSO had a small grants program, funded by the European Commission, and this then gave me access to funds to pay for the basic costs of filming the characters.
Original Title: Untouchable Love
Director: Dilman Dila
Original Language: Nepali, Hindi, Maithili, English
Duration: Approx. 90 minutes
Country of Production: Nepal
Year of Production: 2011
Shooting Format: DVCam, PAL, 16:9, Color
Exhibition Format: MiniDV, HDCam, DigiBeta, BetaCam