Fireflies: Delhi Slum Girls’ Crusade Against Child Marriage

Twenty-eight young girls from West Delhi’s slum areas got together and made ‘Fireflies’, a feature film on child marriage. What’s more is that each and every job in the movie is done by these girls. While a few girls donned the director’s hat, some took on scripting and everyone contributed to acting in the film, where even the characters of boys are played by girls.

The girls, who belong to the age group of 8-17 years, are part of NGO Protsahan. Their film was screened on July 22, which is also the NGO’s 7th anniversary. It showed how four girls resisted, fought and successfully stopped the act of mass marriage for the cause of education.

Set in a village, ‘Fireflies’ is a story of girls who are only raised to do housework and be discriminated in a patriarchal world. Patriarchy is so thickly preserved in this village that even their mothers turn away from them and impose the same restrictions that once they went through themselves. Frankly, this is not an exaggerated story. It is the story of several villages and urban slums across the country.

The Making Of The Movie

Talking about how this idea took shape, founder-director of Protsahan India Foundation Sonal Kapoor spoke to SheThePeople.TV. “It started with a movie that we were making on toilets and against the practice of open-defecation and the girls came to me and said that they want to make a movie on child marriage because that’s the problem they see and face every day. These girls have 12-year-old best friends turning pregnant as a result of child marriage.”

“It took us one-and-half years to put some money together to finally have this little dream of theirs come true,” added Sonal.

“We generally launch protests against these issues through dharnas and demonstrations, so we wanted to present the issue in a different light and so we approached it through cinema and technology,” said Sonal

Opening Their Hearts

While the NGO helped the girls in training and equipment, the young girls opened their hearts in the film. One of the teenage girls and the director of the film, Khushboo, said, “My best friend Pinky is pregnant right now and it is all because of child marriage. She did not even know what a marriage is when she got married and I was terrified with it.”

Khushboo recalled how Pinky and she used to live together and her mother did not let her study. “Some of us girls who were already a part of the NGO got her admitted here as well without the knowledge of her mother. When one day she got home with a bag and a few notebook, her mother got furious and some months later she was married,” she said.

Khushboo wants to become a teacher and teach slum kids now.

Another girl, Priti, who played the chela of a sarpanch, enjoyed working in her first film and had fun acting as well. She says that she wants to keep making films on issues concerning underprivileged children.

Sonam Sahu, who is also the director in the film, shed light on the issue, as she said, “It happens because of the family pressure and it is not even the parents’ mistake because they are not educated themselves and are unaware. For them to understand the value of education is difficult so until girls in the slum start studying and becoming something, it is hard for the tradition to stop. This was our major focus while making the film.”

‘Fireflies’ may not be the best film out there as it is made by young minds with amateur training. But it is certainly one of the most charming movies out there as it shows their perspective and how they want to lead their lives ahead.

ALSO READ: India Home To Maximum Child Brides: Survey