Screened as part of Autumn Events 2013
“In Nisha Pahuja’s brilliant study of women’s choices in modern India, two vastly different movements claim to promote female empowerment. One is the Miss India pageant, the other the women’s branch of militant fundamentalist Hinduism. Pahuja got unprecedented access to both. Backstage at the pageant, young women who yearn for stardom go through the paces of objectification; the competition’s legs component will blow your mind. But don’t assume the Hindu militants are training young women into a life of servility. Yes, eventually, they’ll marry and make meals for their husbands. But right now they’re learning to use guns and to hate Christians and Muslims. Nor are these young women unsophisticated. When asked if she isn’t sacrificing her cultural roots by entering the pageant, one hopeful retorts, ‘Do you ask Americans who are doing yoga if they’re being Indianized?’… Don’t miss it.” — Susan G. Cole, Now Magazine
“The World Before Her, winner of top prizes at Hot Docs and the Tribeca Film Festival, comes with a pitch so irresistible that it’s almost gimmicky: Indian beauty camp or boot camp? In practice, Indian-Canadian filmmaker Nisha Pahuja’s documentary turns out to be a thought-provoking film that examines women’s limited choices in a patriarchal country reeling from the contradictions of rapid modernization.” — Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail
"I think what people will take from this film is very clear – a richer understanding of the choices that both a country and its women are facing. But what I feel is more important is this – that we don't judge even what is clearly abhorrent. Robbing women of their equality and poisoning the minds of innocent girls is wrong but to hate those who do this is to continue a cycle of destruction. After making this film I realized we need to understand time in a different way. Most of us look at things only in the present and we see time as something that is the same the world over – it isn't. Women are fighting for freedom now in India, just as they had to fight for it in the West and just as oppressed people have had to fight for millenia. Their struggle is a reflection of struggles past and other struggles still to come. Everything passes, everything changes, if we see the world in that way perhaps we can learn more compassionate ways of fighting for change." — Nisha Pahuja, indieWIRE
Kathryn Ryan interviews director Nisha Pahuja for Radio NZs Nine to Noon programme. Listen to the full interview online here.