REVENGE WAS HER REPLY.
Fiercely critical of the religious caste system and contempt for women, this controversial, not necessarily all true tale portrays a disrespectful, low-caste woman, real-life Phoolan Devi, who was beaten and raped innumerable times in her life. As a “bandit queen”, a future Robin Hood legend in her country, she executed her revenge against society but caused pain to other innocent human beings in the process. Not quite the Bollywood we are the most acquainted with; then again, director Shekhar Kapur has a British education. Some critics labeled the film an adventure thriller; not really a genre piece in that sense, but gripping nonetheless.
1994-India-Britain. 119 min. Color. Produced by Sundeep Singh Bedi. Directed by Shekhar Kapur. Screenplay: Mala Sen, Ranjit Kapoor. Cast: Seema Biswas (Phoolan Devi), Nirmal Pandey (Vikram Mastam), Manoj Bajpai (Man Singh), Rajesh Vivek, Raghuvir Yadav.
Trivia: The film was banned in its homeland. Released from prison in 1994, Phoolan Devi subsequently won a seat in parliament. She sued the filmmakers, notably for depicting a mass murder she claims never to have participated in.
Last word: “I felt where I was when all this was happening. I felt like a rapist myself. And it is this anger and guilt which reflects in the film, which sometimes make people give up on the film in the first 10 minutes. Offloading my guilt was a large part of how ‘Bandit Queen’ turned out.” (Kapur, The Hindu)