Nishi Pahuja’s The World Before Her-Two Extremist Dimensions

Documentary film, more than any other film form, is beset with social responsibility. Once it was a tool of power, but it has long spoken truth to that power. For the films that do rise to the task, there is a burden on the viewers to ignite the conversation. At least. Without that, a documentary film is a tree falling in the forest. Nisha Pahuja’s film, The World Before Her (2012) is that rare intervention in the contemporary moment that does not end when the credits roll. It leaves much on your shoulders. As a simple juxtaposition of two narratives of India, it is a fine technical, formal achievement. There is Prachi Trivedi, a leader in the camp organized by Durga Vahini, the women’s wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. She has been spending a week a year as a trainer for most of her grown up life. Entirely presumptuous about her own identity (“While making me, God was in a different mood.”), she believes fervently in the ideals of her tasks. She is willing to kill for the country. She inculcates the values set out by the organizers, by firmly extending their reach to younger generation. Her father, a pious autocrat, is stuck in his views of beating up children and confing women to “their space.” He would put her up for marriage though Prachi does not believe in it. When she is home, she appears less defiant than she is on the field, projecting the ideals of a Hindu life and a defense of her idealized nation. And yes; she hates Gandhi because she believes in hinsa when necessary. Prachi admits she is fighting for a country that cannot provide what she wants, a clean slate of life in which she has the freedom to not marry and defend[…..]
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