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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sean Kelly

My Thoughts on The World Before Her

The World Before HerThe World Before Her is a socio-political look at the role of women in India from two different perspectives: the Miss India beauty competition and a militant camp that teaches traditional Hindu values.  However, at it’s heart, the film is an examination of India as a patriarchal society, where women are treated as second-class citizens.  Despite being heavily sexualized and influenced by western culture, the beauty industry is one of the few career options that allow Indian women to be of equal social status.

It really boggles your mind when you come to realize that this beauty competition, where contestants are routinely given botox injections and skin whitening creams, might actually be the best option for women in India.  Not only are the girls at the Hindu camps taught to be subservient women, who have to get married as soon as possible, but they are also encouraged to act out violently against anyone that threatens their religion (this includes Christians and Muslims).  It is disturbing to watch one of the film’s subject say that she is willing to kill anyone who threatens the Hindu way of life, but refuses to describe these violent acts as terrorism.

The documentary also has a fairly interesting contrast between two sets of parents.  The parents of one of the beauty contestants seems truly proud of her accomplishments and keeps newspaper clippings that she has appeared in.  On the other hand, the father of the girl in the camp is very strict about the “old ways” and is even shown expressing his disgust about the Miss India competition.

Overall, The World Before Her is an excellent study of how traditional Hindu values and westernized modernity conflict when it comes to the role of women in today’s India.

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Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).