Barreveld behind beauty queen doc

IDFA Forum wraps with controversial story of Miss India

AMSTERDAM — A character-based doc on the controversial Miss India beauty contest struck a chord with commissioning editors on the final day of the IDFA Forum. The third Canadian project out of 43 selected by the doc festival, The World Before Her was incisively pitched by Storyline Entertainment producer Ed Barreveld (My Toxic Baby, Tiger Spirit) and director Nisha Pahuja, whose previous credits include Bollywood Bound and the Gemini Award-winning The Diamond Road.

Pooja Chopra

The entertaining trailer took the Forum buyers through the whirlwind rise of the young and beautiful Pooja Chopra — from obscurity to national fame as the winner of the 2009 Miss India pageant. But the beauty queen has opposition from two sides, Hindu fundamentalists and feminists who see the system that made Chopra a star ‘as one more Western export’ in the current era of globalization.

Ed Barreveld

At the pitch, Pahuja immediately attracted attention by telling the audience that Chopra’s father wanted to kill her as a baby but was overruled by her mother, who left the marriage with her child, saying, ‘This is a girl who will make me proud one day.’

Now Miss India, Chopra has been trained to speak and behave with an air of Western sophistication. In the film’s final major shoot, to be financed by such Forum supporters as Finland’s YLE, Canada’s Knowledge Network and a growing list of potential broadcasters, Chopra will observe a ‘fashion boot camp,’ where one young woman will be transformed into the next Miss India.

‘The film will be made — whatever money is raised,’ Barreveld told Playback Daily after the pitch.