The World Before Her (2012, USA – UK)

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Director: Nisha Pahuja | 90 minutes | Canada, Germany, USA, UK | 2012 | Language: (Subtitled) English, Hindi | About India


“Twenty young women from across India arrive for an intense, month-long beauty boot camp – they are the hand-picked contestants for the Miss India pageant. Winning the coveted title means instant stardom, a lucrative career path and freedom from the constraints of a patriarchal society.
In another corner of India we visit a camp for young girls run by the militant fundamentalist movement. Through lectures and physical combat training, the girls learn what it means to be good Hindu women.
Moving between the transformative action at both camps and the characters’ private lives, The World Before Her creates a lively, provocative portrait of the world’s largest democracy at a critical transitional moment.” (Film press-kit)

“As young hopefuls compete in a Bombay beauty pageant, village girls undergo combat training in a rural fundamentalist camp. Director Nisha Pauja brilliantly captures the clash between modernity and tradition faced by young women in India. Twenty hand-picked contestants for the Miss India pageant enter an intense month-long beauty boot camp in Bombay. Winning the coveted title means instant stardom, a lucrative career and freedom from the constraints of a patriarchal society. In another corner of India, young girls undergo physical combat training and learn how to be obedient Hindu women at a camp run by the women’s branch of the militant fundamentalist movement. As massive change sweeps through India, control over women and their behaviour is at the epicentre of a violent clash between Western modernity and age-old patriarchal traditions. Director Nisha Pauja gained extraordinary access to women and their families living in two very different worlds—it’s the first time a camera has been allowed into the fundamentalist camp—to craft a brilliant film that captures the choices and contradictions facing young women in India today.” Lynne Fernie (Hot Docs 2012)


Written & Directed by Nisha Pahuja
Producers: Cornelia Principe, Nisha Pahuja
Executive Producers: Ed Barreveld, Andy Cohen, Nisha Pahuja, Mike Chamberlain
Editor: David Kazala
Directors of Photography: Mrinal Desai, Derek Rogers
Original Music: Ken Myhr


With the support of  Telefilm Canada and The Rogers Group of Funds through the Theatrical Documentary Program

Produced in association with ZDF and ARTE
With the assistance of Shaw Media – Hot Docs Completion Fund
Supported by The Gucci-Tribeca Documentary Fund and the PPR Foundation of Women’s Dignity and Rights
With the participation of Rogers Documentary Fund


Tribeca Film Festival 2012 (World Premiere, Official selection)

Hot Docs 2012 (Canadian Premiere, Program: Canadian Spectrum)


Official film website

facebook page

Youtube page, Video trailer on Youtube


. The World Before Her (23/4/12)

. Hot Docs 2012: ‘The World Before Her’ is essential viewing at this year’s festival (24/4/12)

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