THE WORLD BE­FORE HER

NOW Magazine - Hot Docs - - Hot Docs Film Fest Guide -

(Nisha Pahuja, Canada, Ger­many, USA, UK). 90 min­utes. Subti­tled. Rat­ing: 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?”

And the pas­sion­ate leader of the mil­i­tant youth move­ment – a la­tent les­bian if I ever saw one – knows she’s not ex­actly fit­ting in.

Don’t miss it. May 2, 7 pm, Is­abel Bader The­atre; May 5, 9: 30 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 1; May 6, 11 am, Is­abel Bader The­atre.

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