Nisha Pahuja is a Delhi-born indie filmmaker and documentarist raised in Canada. She shuttles between Mumbai and Toronto on her filmmaking endeavours, which has got her considerable acclaim. Her best known film, The World Before Her (2012), juxtaposes India’s conservative right and the liberal capitalist clique through two camps for women. The first, Durga Vahini, is a never-before-filmed militant Hindu fundamentalist camp for girls; and the second a month-long beauty camp for Miss India contenders. The film hit a number of the top ten lists for 2012 and went on to win several awards. Nisha’s earlier films include Bollywood Bound (2003) about Indo-Canadians travelling to India to make it big in Indian cinema; and Diamond Road (2007), a series on the global diamond trade. Asked about whether she related to the two contrasting groups of women in The World Before Her, she says: “Irelated to both kinds … In many ways their struggles are my struggles as an NRI in a conservative family in the West, not really belonging to either world and carving out a space for myself that allowed me to be what I am …” On her experiences with Durga Vahini, she shares: “It took nearly two years to establish rapport, and I got to know many in the movement. I guess the reason I got access was the fact that I am non-judgemental, and people knew that I was not about to sensationalise the issues. So we built a relationship of mutual respect and humanity despite the gulf between our political beliefs …” Nisha got into documentary filmmaking after studying English Literature, working in social services and then as a documentary researcher. “For some reason,” after starting to make films thirteen years ago, “I still make them — finding people with incredible stories that reveal to us something about the world we live in.”

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