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cover: Bandit Queen

Bandit Queen

Director(s): Shekhar Kapur

Theatrical Release: 1984

Cast: Seema Biswas, Nirmal Pandey, Manoj Bajpai, Rajesh Vivek

Genre(s): Drama, biography, politics

Countries: India, United Kingdom


Location in store: Checkout Counter > International binder

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Running Time: 121m.

Bandit Queen, based on the true story of legendary female warrior Phoolan Devi, is a confrontational epic that paints a far different picture of India from other art-house productions. Devi (Seema Biswas) is married at age 11, abandoned by her husband when she resists his advances, and turned into a social outcast who, at one point, is gang-raped by the upper-caste men of one village. She later gets her revenge by organizing a massacre that leaves 20 villagers dead. Devi ultimately leads a band of latterday Robin Hoods on bold raids against landowners in Central India during the late 1970s and early 1980s, often taking their spoils and redistributing them to poor tenant farmers. By the time she is arrested in 1983, Devi has become a folk hero, especially to the women who live in rural India's brutally patriarchal society. A full-fledged commercial production, handsomely produced and directed by talented Indian filmmaker Shekhar Kapur (who emerged from the country's vaunted "Bollywood" system), Bandit Queen painfully exposes a controversial aspect of Indian culture, while providing a triumphant portrait of female empowerment. Don Kaye (allmovie.com)
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