Bandit Queen

Director Shekhar Kapur (‘Elizabeth’) has never let something as tiresome as historical rigour get in the way of a good yarn, and this lavishly mounted 1994 account of the life of Indian feminist, Phoolan Devi, is no exception. Said to be ‘riddled with inaccuracies’ by Devi herself, the film follows the rambunctious young girl whose harsh upbringing in northern India during the late 1970s encouraged her to join a gang of bandits and wage a personal war against male cultural dominance and the caste system.

Seema Biswas is excellent in the title role, exuding a total awareness of her character’s bruised mentality and delivering a performance that is as physical and insidiously threatening as the land upon which she is habitually defiled by groups of leering men who believe her to be a ‘low caste bitch’. Indeed, the numerous, unflinchingly filmed scenes of public and gang rape make this a visceral, if gruelling, experience, especially when juxtaposed with sprawling, beautifully photographed vistas of the Indian deserts and mountain ranges.

Release details

Rated: 18
Release date: Friday April 25 2008
Duration: 121 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Shekhar Kapur
Screenwriter: Mala Sen
Cast: Seema Biswas
Nirmal Pandey
Manjoj Bajpai
Rajesh Vivek
Raghuvir Yadav
Govind Namdeo
Saurabh Yadav
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