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 ...
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It's 1947 and the borderlines between India and Pakistan are being drawn. A young girl witnesses tragedy as her ayah (nanny) is caught between the love of two men and the rising tide of political and religious violence.
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Kay Kay Menon,
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
"Bandit Queen" is a controversial and groundbreaking Indian film (co-produced by Great Britain's "Channel Four") telling the real-life story of Phoolan Devi (Seema Biswas, excellent), a low-caste woman given to a husband at age 11 who runs away from him, is constantly violated by upper-caste males, until pairing with a handsome outlaw, Vikram Mallah (Nirmal Pandey), who shows her some respect and invites her to join his gang. Devi became a mythical national figure in her own lifetime (she had just been released from an 11-year prison term when the movie came out, and was murdered in 2001), hailed as "The Bandit Queen" or "Queen of the Ravines". Although at first Devi took legal action to ban the movie's exhibition in India (and it was actually banned for some time - after all, this is no Bollywood fantasy), she eventually changed her mind (plus, Channel Four paid her $60,000...).
A lot has been said about the accuracy of everything portrayed on screen ("My life was much harder", Devi would have said after the first time she saw the movie). Just like he would do in 1998's successful "Elizabeth", Shekhar Kapur knows how to turn a larger than life, actual trajectory in a huge spectacle - but still keeping the essence of its core. Truth be told, this is one of those extraordinary sagas that if even half of what's portrayed on screen is real, it's already quite a journey. Kapur might have been a high-caste, city-bred man trying to portray the life of a brave and rebellious low-caste woman fighting for her survival - in a way that no other woman in her time had done, but that doesn't mean he doesn't know or doesn't have the right to try to depict this reality he doesn't directly belong to. How honest Kapur's original intentions were we can't know for sure, but that doesn't undermine his accomplishment here; this is a story that had to be told to a larger international audience. If a movie manages to work both as an adventurous spectacle and a tale of resurgence after national injustice and misfortunes, then it deserves to be seen. 8.5/10.
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