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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.

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