Canadian filmmaker Nisha Pahuja had to win over both a fundamentalist Hindu group and the organizers of the Miss India Pageant to make her new film, The World Before Her.

Toronto-based Pahuja, whose previous credits include the TVO doc Diamond Road and the National Film Board production Bollywood Bound, spent four years making her latest feature.

The World Before Her contrasts the wide-eyed ambitions of 20 hand-picked contestants determined to win the title of Miss India with the behind-the-scenes reality inside Hindu fundamentalist camps for young girls, run by the women's wing of a militant movement.

Pahuja talks to CBC about exploring deep divisions in Indian culture in The World Before Her, which won best documentary feature at New York's Tribeca Film Festival on Thursday and is screening at Toronto's Hot Docs.