Preview Screening: The World Before Her + Q&A
The screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Nisha Pahuja.
Every year, 20 young, beautiful and ambitious women compete for the title of Miss India. They undergo a strict regime of beauty care and physical training to transform themselves into modern Indian women. It may look like an extremely superficial process, but winning this prestigious title can ultimately lead to freedom from the constraints of a patriarchal society.
Elsewhere in India, Durga Vahini, the female wing of the biggest fundamentalist Hindu movement in India, is running a training camp. Young girls are taught self-defense and how to protect the Hindu culture, as well as how to suppress their own will as women. In the eyes of the fundamentalist Hindus, also known as “the Indian Taliban,” the Indian beauty contest is nothing more than an obscene threat to traditional values.
Filmmaker Nisha Pahuja illustrates the tension between traditional and modern perspectives toward women in India today. The Durga Vahini girls and the Miss India contestants personify these two Indias. Initially representing the two threads as mutually exclusive worldviews, Pahuja ultimately draws surprising parallels in the way women are perceived and the opportunities that are afforded them at both extremes.
Directed by Nisha Pahuja