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NRI filmmaker honoured at NY fest

Neeraj Kumar's documentary Child Marriage has received the Best Documentary International award.

india Updated: Dec 22, 2005 11:01 IST

Indian American filmmaker Neeraj Kumar's debut documentary Child Marriage has received the Best Documentary International award at the New York International Film and Video Festival (NYIFVF), 2005.

The 82-minute long documentary, according to Neeraj, was shot in guerrilla style as the marriages were held at secret locations since the practice is banned by law.

Still, Neeraj was able to film the marriage of 70 children in 40 days.

Neeraj says the award is recognition of the fact that this is a much-neglected critical issue that needs to be tackled immediately. UNICEF has already labelled this as a human rights issue.

The documentary reveals horrifying details about a little bride getting engaged before she was even born. The film also touches on other significant issues like women's rights, animal rights and discrimination against untouchables.

The film, according to Neeraj, has never-before-seen visuals, artistic folk music and dances from the remote western parts of India.

"After living for years in the United States, the Indian summer heat and dust was gruelling," Neeraj said. I travelled on a motorcycle, day and night, up and down Rajasthan and Haryana. On the way, I met many fascinating people. I passed by crumbling, neglected monuments that have stood the test of time for thousands of years.

"One night, while sleeping in a courtyard I was bitten by an alley dog. That village had no doctors, so I had to resort to cleaning my wounds with wet wipes. Worst of all, after that incident, the dog slept right next to my cot," Neeraj added.

Nonetheless, he said he had a "great time" making the documentary and hoped his message will reach far and wide.

Neeraj is now working on two projects related to India, it's environs and society.