Every year, 20 girls compete for the title of Miss India. Over the 30 days of the contest, they undergo a strict regime of beauty care and physical training to transform them into modern Indian women. It may look like an extremely superficial process, but it's a major opportunity for these ladies to get a better life. The beauty industry is one of the few in India in which women can earn a good salary and be on equal footing with men. The training for the "misses" contrasts sharply with the training for hundreds of girls at a camp run by the militant Durga Vahini, the female wing of the biggest fundamentalist Hindu movement in India. Here, girls learn strong discipline so they can bring order to the country. The camp leader teaches the girls self-defense and how to protect the Hindu culture, as well as how to suppress their own will as women. In the eyes of the fundamentalist Hindus, also known as "the Indian Taliban," the Indian beauty contest is nothing more than an obscene threat to traditional values. The Durga Vahini girls and the misses personify two Indias, and each side has its own answer to the question of whether progress means the loss of deep-rooted values.
Ed Barreveld for Storyline Entertainment, Cornelia Principe for Storyline Entertainment, Nisha Pahuja for Storyline Entertainment
Andy Cohen, Mike Chamberlain
Derek Rogers, Mrinal Desai