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Bandit Queen
IMDB Rating: 7.6/10 from 3,029 votes
Release: 2 February 1995 (Netherlands) /

Bandit Queen

Genre: Biography, Crime, Drama, Foreign
Director: Shekhar Kapur,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: The movie tells the story of the bandit queen Phoolan Devi who was sent to prison in 1983 and got free in 1994. During five years she was prosecuted by the Indian police and turned into a legend (like a modern Robin Hood) by the Indian press. Although the press tended to make her the optimal hero with blue eyes, dark hair, being tall and beautiful she was in reality an average Indian which makes it hard for the movie to fulfill the expectations of the audience and tell the truth at the same time. Later in her life,She entered into the politics and was assassinated in 2001. Written by Volker Boehm

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Critic Reviews

Phoolan Devi (played by Seema Biswas) is sold into marriage at 11 and is repeatedly abused from then onwards because she is a woman. She is partially liberated by Vikram Mallah (Nirmal Pandey), one of the bandits she is taken in by and eventually rises to lead the group, extracting vicious revenge on upper-cast men in repayment for what they had done to her.

The film is a fascinating account of the life of Phoolan Devi who was assassinated in September 2001. The film follows from rise (if you can call it that) from abused child to Bandit Queen. Scenes of abuse are tactfully portrayed with the focus on Phoolan's face rather than the act itself. This focus allows the viewer to see the pain that is inflicted by the abuse. This is still very hard to sit and watch be it the abuse by her husband at 11 or the gang rape of adulthood. It's sad that worldwide women are treated as second-class citizens, often subject to this type of terrible abuse as a matter of daily life - even sadder that many religions are interpreted to allow it.

Where the film is weak is the depiction of the two sets of violence - violence against Phoolan is shown as horrible and unforgivable as it should be, however her acts of retaliation are filmed with a more artistic camera and you get the feeling that we are meant to take it that these acts of violence are less horrible because they are revenge attacks. Many of those killed by Phoolan's gang had not done anything to her and were "innocent". The film should have a more even tone across all these actions.

The performances are roundly excellent. All characters no matter how repugnant or noble are played as totally believable - for many you see both sides of their characters. Seema Biswas is excellent as Phoolan Devi, she convinces throughout the film. The subject matter must have been very difficult to act through but she is without a flaw in the lead - the only problem being the slightly sympathetic edge towards her acts of revenge that the film gives.

The film is horrible viewing and yet inspiring that one woman could survive through such events in such a society. Phoolan lived with things that the vast majority of us will ever imagine, she rose up against amazing odds to marry above her caste and be elected to the Indian Parliament. Worth watching to help you be aware of the rest of the world and to ensure that you keep yourself kind towards others in all situations.

Long live Phoolan Devi. May she find more peace in death than she did in life.

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