Bandit Queen Review

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The movie tells the story of the bandit queen Phoolan Devi who was sent to prison in 1983 and got free in 1994.


Having suffered the indignities of being sold as a child to a much-older husband, abused for her low caste and otherwise mistreated, Phoolan Devi turns to a life of banditry, enjoying a brief liaison with a sensitive outlaw. When her lover is murdered and she is gang-raped by a rival faction, Phoolan becomes as angel of vengeance and runs her own bandit gang, until her eventual surrender to army forces. This proved something of a cinema hot potato because of its treatment of real-life events — the actual Phoolan was almost psychotically anti the picture — and its tactful but upsetting descriptions of several shockingly cruel incidents. It’s thinly characterised and depends on background knowledge you might not have, but is still a powerful indictment of the systemised injustice that its heroine reacted against.

Oblique subject matter, but very provocative.