Back to Films

The World Before Her


Through dramatic vérité action and unprecedented behind-the-scenes access, THE WORLD BEFORE HER sweeps back the curtain to reveal the intimate stories of young women determined to win the Miss India beauty pageant crown and the forces that oppose them. Hindu fundamentalists view pageants as immoral and a symbol of the rapid Westernization of India; protests are common. 

As the contestants move through beauty boot camp, filmmaker Nisha Pahuja travels to another corner of India to visit an annual camp for young girls run by the Durgha Vahini, the women's wing of the militant fundamentalist movement. Through lectures and physical combat training, the girls learn what it means to be good Hindu women and how to fight against Islam, Christianity and Western influences by any means necessary. 

Moving between 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. These young women may represent opposing extremes but in their hearts they share a common dream: to help shape the future of India.


Learn more about THE WORLD BEFORE HER and connect with the film: 

See the Film

The Filmmakers


December 31, 1969

Follow @worldbeforeher

Festivals & Awards

Tribeca Film Festival


Winner - Best Documentary Feature

Hot Docs International Film Festival


Winner - Best Canadian Feature

Toronto International Film Festival


Canada's Top Ten 

Traverse City Film Festival


Winner - Best Foreign Film


Beautiful and poignant.”

-Filmmaker Magazine

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.”

-The Globe and Mail

Pahuja's talent for juxtaposition is uncommon … THE WORLD BEFORE HER is one of the best documentaries on femininity and culture in years.”

-Sound on Sight

In Nisha Pahuja’s brilliant study of women’s choices in modern India, two vastly different movements claim to promote female empowerment…. Don't miss it.”

-NOW Magazine

Extreme choices and attitudes confronting women in India are laid bare in Nisha Pahuja’s quietly shocking film.”

-Toronto Star


THE WORLD BEFORE HER completed a three-part national outreach campaign in India. The first part was a theatrical release in the summer of 2015, which was incredibly successful, making the film the most broadly distributed documentary ever released in theaters in India. There has been an immense amount of press as well. The next two components started in the fall, involving a screening tour at colleges and universities sponsored by campus women’s rights organizations, and a grassroots tour to areas where female infanticide is still practiced and rates of female feticide are high.


Outreach Resources

Kickstarter Campaign

Successfully funded Kickstarter campaign for THE WORLD BEFORE HER's India Screening Tour, including updates from the tour.