Rebel Love: What It Takes To Marry Outside Caste And Religion In India

Posted on June 15, 2015 in Society

By Gayatri Parameswaran

Every year, thousands of Indian couples elope. In a country ridden by caste and religious divisions, youngsters who fall in love sometimes risk their lives to be together. Lovebirds – Rebel lovers In India is a documentary film about their plight.

The film follows a voluntary organisation called Love Commandos, which unites young couples irrespective of caste and religion.

Honour Killings

Each inter-caste marriage risks many threats. First of all the bride and groom risk being killed. It’s called honour killing,” Sanjoy Sachdev, chairperson of the Love Commandos, says in the film by director Gianpaolo Bigoli. Sanjoy heads the only voluntary organisation in India which offers help to youngsters who want to marry outside of their caste or religion.

Studies indicate that over a 1,000 people fall prey to honour killings every year. In most of these cases, the killers are relatives of the victims. “There are some people who kill their own sons and daughters in the name of tradition,” Sachdev says.

Universal Appeal

Lovebirds… was screened at the 2012 International Documentary Film Festival of Amsterdam (IDFA). Italian filmmaker Gianpaolo Bigoli says he chose the subject of his film because he felt that it could touch all his audiences.

Mixed couples, often on the run, who are fighting for their love against the rules of society is a story not unique to India, and has been happening over the centuries – take the story of Romeo and Juliet as an example,” he says.


However, the sensitive topic of the film posed many challenges for Bigoli. “First, we had to respect the safety of the couples. Then the most difficult and delicate part was to create a good and honest relationship with the Love Commandos and ‘Lovebirds’, considering the difficulties in communication across the language barrier.

During the course of the film, Arti and Sanjay – a young couple from northern India – eloped. Since Sanjay is from a lower caste than Arti, they were certain that they would risk being killed if they made their love public in their village.

If I hadn’t come here, I don’t know where else I could have gone. Surely I wouldn’t have been alive now and my body would have been nowhere to be found,” Sanjay says in the film.

A Ray Of Hope

The film portrays the tense lives of three such couples who face various odds because they are in love. At the heart of it though is an intimate glimpse into the social fabric of India. Though the film talks about a dark issue, it leaves you with some hope. One of the subjects in the film says, “If your love is true then gods will help you.

The film has been a big learning experience for its makers as well. Bigoli says, “Never consider a civil or social right for granted. Many people suffered and died for our rights and many people suffer and die for their rights worldwide at this time.