The World Before Her

The World Before Her asks: Beauty Pageants -- passé in the West -- but in India, where women remain second-class citizens, can they actually be empowering? The World Before Her follows two converging story lines--that of the girls who want to become Miss India, and that of the forces that want the pageant banned.

Global Perspectives, Women’s Rights & Empowerment

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About the Film

The World Before Her dramatizes the tension between traditional and modern perspectives toward women in today’s India by juxtaposing the Miss India pageant against Durga Vahini, the women’s wing of the Hindu fundamentalist movement.

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, convincingly depicting each as real sources of both oppression and empowerment. The World Before Her is a riveting, thoughtful profile of the fundamental contradictions of a country in transition.

Film In Context

The World Before Her presents two opposing forces in a rapidly modernizing India—that of young women who readily embrace change because of the opportunities that change promises to bring, and that of young women who support a more traditional outlook and way of life by embracing the Hindu fundamentalist movement, otherwise known as Durga Vahini. The themes that come across in the film include the struggle between modernization and tradition as well as the differing views of the role that women should play in Indian society.