Bollywood Dhamaka

Award-winning documentary ‘The World Before Her’ to be presented by Anurag Kashyap

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Anurag Kashyap to present the award-winning documentary ‘The World Before Her’ which is slated to release on April 25. Bollywood celebrities like Shimit Amin, Nandita Das, Deepa Mehta, Lisa Ray join hands to raise funds for the nationwide campaign of the film.

After winning accolades and awards around the world, the much awaited documentary which shifts between the worlds of the Miss India pageant and a Hindu fundamentalist camp for girls and is a powerful, controversial and intimate story about what it means to be a woman in contemporary India, has launched an initiative to raise funds for their ambitious India campaign to screen the film across the country. And joining the campaign are none other than the stalwarts of Bollywood, Anurag Kashyap, Shimit Amin, Nandita Das, Deepa Mehta and Lisa Ray.

Anurag Kashyap who is presenting the film says, “I love this film and had heard about it for a long time. I want to make sure it gets to as wide an audience as possible. That is why I decided to get behind it. It is the first documentary I have launched and it feels like a narrative film.”

Interestingly, the 6-month-nationwide-campaign which was launched on March 8th, International Women’s Day is being supported by three powerful women, Nandita Das, Deepa Mehta and Lisa Ray. The incredible trio who have always stood up for woman’s rights strongly feel that the documentary is a must watch for every Indian.

Says Nandita, “The World Before Her is powerful, insightful and poignant. It’s very telling of our times and the complexities we need to deal with, especially in the area of gender empowerment. It is wonderfully made with some very interesting characters. I think often fiction is unable to keep pace with reality, and this documentary is a great example of that. We need good engaging documentaries in this country and we need to give them their due place.”

Raving about the film, The Chak De director Shimit Amin says, “When I saw “The World Before Her” I was blown away. I saw something that has still not left me. I was scared and moved at the same time. This film is the only true portrait of anything that is going on here. Its incredible how it captures the current culture miles away from anything that has come out in recent times. Its not west looking into India. Its not India trying to portray itself to the west. Its above all of that. That is wonderful to see. I feel that everyone here should see the film.”

Overwhelmed by the support shown by the film fraternity Nisha says, “It has been incredible the way the film fraternity in India and also Canada have rallied around The World Before Her. Shimit Amin, Lisa Ray, Nandita Das, Deepa Mehta, all have been very supportive and are helping me immensely to ensure this film gets as wide a release as possible. And of course, Anurag putting his name behind it and presenting the film, that takes it to a whole other level. Documentaries are still not given the kind of value that feature films are in India. that is slowly changing. Anurag’s stature and importance as a filmmaker in India and internationally means the film will reach so many more people and that is key.”

Apart from the theatrical release in Metro cities. the makers aim to reach out to the wider audience by screening the film in educational institutes across the country and in parts of India where female infanticide and foeticide is high. Joining the campaign are women’s rights activists and former Miss India Pooja Chopra who was a near victim of female infanticide. Pooja, the star of Commando plays a key role in the documentary.

The makers of the film have set a goal of raising 50 thousand US dollars in 40 days with the help of a crowdfunding organisation, Kickstarter and have managed to raise more than 40 percent of the amount in just over 2 weeks.

The writer and director Nisha Pahuja says, “We launched a crowd funding campaign because we wanted to ensure the film and its message travels far and wide and reaches people who normally would not have access to a film like this. Stories have the ability to change the way people think about an issue because they are non threatening. In order for women’s rights to really take hold in india, trying to get people to ‘see” differently is key.”

The award-winning film which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in 2012 has been screened at more than 125 International film festivals and has won 19 awards and distinctions including Best Documentary Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival 2012. It was recently part of the prestigious Film Forward program, an initiative of the Sundance institute and 4 Federal US agencies including the President’s committee on the arts and humanities.

The film is shot by the ace cinematographer and FTII graduate, Mrinal Desai (who shot 2nd unit on Slumdog Millionaire) and Canadian cinematographer Derek Rogers.

About the film:

The World Before Her shifts between the worlds of the Miss India pageant and a Hindu fundamentalist camp for girls. In one, Ruhi Singh is a small-town girl competing in Bombay to win the Miss India pageant—a ticket to stardom in a country wild about beauty contests. In the other India, Prachi Trivedi is the young, militant leader of a fundamentalist Hindu camp for girls run by Durga Vahini, where she preaches violent resistance to Western culture, Christianity, and Islam. Moving between these divergent realities, the film creates a lively, provocative portrait of the world’s largest democracy at a critical transitional moment—and of two women who hope to shape its future. The film also features former Miss India Pooja Chopra who was a near victim of female infanticide.

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