Tale of two 2 women & 2 Indias

2 IndiasThe World Before Her is a tale of two Indias. In one, Ruhi Singh is a small-town girl competing in Bombay to win the Miss India pageant-a ticket to stardom in a country wild about beauty contests. In the other India, Prachi Trivedi is the young, militant leader of a fundamentalist Hindu camp for girls, where she preaches violent resistance to Western culture, Christianity and Islam.

Moving between these divergent realities, the film creates a lively, provocative portrait of the world’s largest democracy at a critical transitional moment – and of two women who hope to shape its future.

Nisha Pahuja’s The World Before Her, winner of the World Documentary Award at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, has its national broadcast premiere on Monday, Sept. 16 at 10 p.m. (check local listings) on the award-winning PBS documentary series POV (Point of View). The film will stream on POV’s website, www.pbs.org/pov/worldbeforeher, from Sept. 17-Oct. 16, 2013. The film is a co-presentation with the Center for Asian American Media.

Winning the Miss India title means instant stardom, a lucrative career path and freedom from the constraints of a patriarchal society. “I think of myself as a very modern young girl and I want freedom,” says Ruhi, who is from Jaipur in northern India. For women in her world, a beauty pageant is a road to liberation.

In the city of Aurangabad, about 200 miles from Bombay, thousands of girls attend annual camps run by Durga Vahini, the women’s wing of the largest Hindu nationalist group in India. At its camps for girls, to which the crew of The World Before Her gained first-time access, its young charges are taught a combination of Hindu femininity and fighting skills.

“We are trying to save ourselves,” says Prachi. “The Hindu movement is life for me.”
In one of the film’s remarkable twists, it turns out that beauty queens and Hindu fundamentalists have something in common. Approximately 750,000 girls are electively aborted every year and an unknown number are killed at birth in India. But Prachi’s father had chosen to save her and raise her as his only child. And Miss India of 2009, now a star, had been saved from infanticide only because her mother had walked out on her husband. This reality is shared by girls and women on both sides of the divide between tradition and modernity.

“I have been going to India for nearly 15 years and the more time I spend there, the more I realize that what India does best is teach,” says writer/director producer Nisha Pahuja. “It forces one to see that assumptions are never safe and nothing is simple. I chose to focus on the battle between tradition and ‘modernity,’ fundamentalism and capitalism and how this plays out on the bodies of women. In some ways, what hangs in the balance is not just the future of women in this country but the very future of the country itself.”

Nisha Pahuja, Writer/Director/Producer, was born in New Delhi, India, and grew up in Toronto. She started off as a researcher for some of Canada’s brightest documentary talents, including John Walker and Ali Kazimi. She co-wrote and directed Diamond Road, a three part series on the global diamond trade for ZDF/Arte, TVO, Discovery Times and History Television. Diamond Road received the 2008 Gemini award for best documentary series.

Pahuja’s Bollywood Bound, about a quartet of Indo-Canadians who travel to India to make it big in Bollywood, screened at numerous film festivals and was widely telecast around the world. It was the closing night film at Hot Docs 2001 and was nominated for a Gemini in 2002. The multi-award winning The World Before Her is her third film. It was selected as the opening night documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2012 and has since been selected by more than 100 festivals worldwide.

India Post News Service

0 - 0

Thank You For Your Vote!

Sorry You have Already Voted!