The World Before Her
The World Before HerOriginal Title: The World Before Her
Director: Nisha Pahuja
Canada | English, Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi
Subtitles: Arabic and English
“We, as a country, should move forward; a lot of people think that if you allow a woman to work and get modern and get educated you lose your culture and heritage.' “Whatever I am thinking, whatever I am going to do, whatever I am thinking for my life is against the system for which I am fighting.' Those similar statements belong to two very different young Indian women.
The first is attending a boot camp in Mumbai that will transform her into the perfect candidate for Miss India. Her weapons are Botox and make-up. The second is thousands of miles away at a very different boot camp, run by Durga Vahini (Army of Durga), the women’s branch of a Hindu fundamentalist movement. There they learn to use real weapons.
In both camps, young women believe they are making their own decisions and contributing to shape a different future for Indian women. Miss India advocates progress and freedom for women but actually imports the worst of the western world, exploiting and degrading the participants. The Hindu camp, in the name of respect for tradition and heritage, teaches the young campers violence, racism, and hate toward Christians and Muslims.
With incredible access to the young women on both sides, Nisha Pahuja – the first filmmaker allowed in a Durga Vahini camp – and her extraordinary editor David Kazala craft a vivid portrait of two entities that claim to liberate women yet manipulate them.
Pahuja’s ability to balance the two realities is exemplary, as is her tender, non-judgmental approach. Nevertheless the message is clear: in contemporary India, the road to true self-determination and real freedom of choice for women is still paved with insidious obstacles, male hostility and social manipulation.
– Teresa Cavina