In the male dominate society of India; two distinct groups vie for control of adolescent female population. The young ladies of India have two options presented to them. Beauty contests or Hindu run summer camps.
In The World Before Her you get a morality competition between Hindu fundamentalist (a.k.a. traditional India) and the so called “new” or “modern” India. Both factions attempt to indoctrinate the girls. In a country where 750,000 girls are aborted every year ya’ kinda have to. Eye opening and powerful -The World Before Her is an expose to take in.
Hindu extremist (also referred to as the Indian Taliban) have camps for young girls. There the young girls chant songs that will make you uneasy when you find out what words make up the lyrics. Also they preach a strict code that hopeful traditional Indian women should follow. In other words they need to go the opposite direction of actress Aishwarya Rai. The leaders go further to inform their disciples that Rai takes money from foreign companies to promote products to Indian girls. Rai doesn’t care about India, only herself. This is the first time a camera crew has been allowed into such a camp, and for obvious reasons. Prachi is a 20 year old “camp counselor” that has been to 42 of these camps. She adheres to the Hindu way of life, except for her desire to not get married and have kids. Kind of ironic since that is what is expected of her from her abusive and controlling dad. She goes against the preaching’s of Gandhi, and supports the violent nature the group has adopted. Women found defiling Hindu culture, being with a man in public or at a bar, are beaten.
The other side of the spectrum is the Miss India Contest. Every year 20 hand-picked contestants are groomed and trained for a month for the televised broadcast. The contest is seen as a way for the hopefuls to achieve financial stability. It is not all fittings and photo-shoots, the contestants go through Botox treatments & skin whitening. Ruhi, one of the contestants, gets full supports and love from her parents. A nice juxtaposition to Prachi’s dad. The winner of Miss India 2009, Pooja Chopra, speaks highly of the contest. Her backstory is quite moving, and you can feel her appreciation for life. One thing to remember is the Miss India Contest is not physically attacking back at the Hindu’s. They focus more on the bikini portion of the contest and outer appearance.
Neither side is pure, that is for sure. Is the Miss India Contest turning Indian girls into overseas Americans? Is the sermons by Hindu spiritualist against other religions proper?
The World Before Her is playing May 11th at Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane.
The World Before Her - ★★★1/2