This movie is a lot different than the actual events.
Carrie Kaur | VA United States | 09/28/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Shekhar Kapur is a great director. I am Indian so, I have seen over 75% of the Bollywood movies (biggest film industry in the world). Bandit Queen was very different yet entertaining. It had several sexual scenes and a lot cursing which is not normal for an Indian movie. I would like you to know that you will hear the curse word sisterf***er through out the entire movie. This is a curse word that is often used in India. The scene where Vikram was murdered is one that was different from the actual events. Phoolan wasn't even near the sleeping Vikram when he was shot to death. Phoolan had walked away from him to the river without her gun. We have to realize that she had this rage in her because she wanted to be treated the same as the upper castes. She was married off at the age of 11. Her husband raped her shortly after causing her never to have children. He was the one that kicked her out after humiliating her in front of his entire village and her entire village. She had no place to go. The movie portrayed her leaving him. Read the book by Mala Sen. The book is very detailed and you will see how the movie was altered. Phoolan Devi reported that Kapur did not have her permission to make this movie. She added that the massacre did not happen the way the movie portrayed. She also said that the movie made her out to be a demon rather than the Robin Hood heroin she actually was. She robbed the rich and gave to the poor. She had a heart. She felt this hate for the ones that did her wrong - the heartless upper caste men. Phoolan Devi went through so much in her short life before she was brutally murdered. To me she will live on through the teachings in India, books and movies. She changed the way Indians thought of a woman to be powerless. She not only proved herself - she proved that women too could rebel. That we women also had feelings and strength. After being on the run as a bandit and serving time in jail Phoolan went into politics. She married a wonderful man. They had a great marriage despite the fact that they could not have children. All I have to say after studying her life story is "Hail Phoolan Devi"."
darragh o'donoghue | 05/21/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"'Bandit Queen' is an arthouse update of the old 70s exploitation movies, in which a relentless focus on female suffering is justified by a pseudo-feminist revenge-plot. Taking us far away from the multi-coloured, song-and-dance Hindi spectaculars that are currently all the global range, Shekhar Kapur shows us an India riven by violence, poverty and a vicious caste system, where women are treated as subhuman. Before she even hits puberty, Phoolan Devi is married off to an older man (dowry: rusty bicycle and old goat) and raped when she expresses dissatisfaction at her social lot. When, some years later, she is nearly raped again by the landowner's son, it is she who is expelled from the community; she takes up with bandits and begins her first true love affair with the atypically sensitive Vikram, de facto leader while Babu Gujjar is in prison. When the latter is released, now turned police informer, he resents the pretensions of this lower-caste woman (called a goddess by her followers), has her gang-raped by all his men, and publicly stripped and humiliated. Having plumbed the lowest depths there are, Devi takes the blood-spattered road of vengeance, turning torture and massacre into a media-fuelled spectacle.When the director of 'Queen' later went on to make a film about Tudor-era royal conspiracies ('Elizabeth'), many were surprised because of the gaping differences in subject matter, but Kapur imposes his own concerns on the two movies: both feature outsider-women attempting to assert power in rigid male-dominated hierarchies; both emphasise the importance of costume, ritual and public spectacle in these societies, and the necessary reuninciation of sexuality and 'normal' femininity of strong women. In both, the apparently immovable class system represented in heavy buildings and landscape is made fluid and unstable by Kapur's gliding camerawork that seems to make walls melt away.But whereas 'Elizabeth' was an artistic success, 'Queen' seems to me a manipulative failure. This is mostly due to its reliance on a single source, the prison diaries of Devi, whereas the latter film created a web of conflicting viewpoints and omnipresent sense of surveillance. It is of course right to expose the atrocities embedded in the Indian caste system, and the slavery of women; it is right that a woman denied a voice in her own country (where the film was banned) should be heard. But the catalogue of unspeakable crimes inflicted on Devi has the effect of caricaturing the villains around her, turning her very real plight almost into a cartoon of repetitive violence. There is no nuance of social analysis here; instead the most simplistic behaviouralism - if such-and-such is inflicted on you, you will respond thus - depoliticising Devi's very real social transgression, reducing her to a mere melodramatic heroine, the 'woman wronged'. Having stayed so closely with its heroine and her experiences of abuse, when the film has to distance itself from her violence (which it must to avoid endorsing eye-for-an-eye brutality), it feels like a betrayal. By lingering on her suffering rather than her revenge, the latter is as abrupt, arbitrary and dreamlike as 'Lawrence Of Arabia', the vile murders shot with the same kind of exquisite taste and fussy staging, the political wholly subsumed to the deranged personal. I always get a bit queasy when men direct these kind of pseudo-feminist pictures - more interested in her body than her voice, 'Queen' can only continues the dehumanisation of its so-called heroine."
The story of Phoolan Devi
Peter Shelley | Sydney, New South Wales Australia | 06/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film from India tells the story of one of that country's most celebrated criminals, Phoolan Devi, who initiated the massacre of 30 men in Behmai in 1981. Based on the real life Devi's prison diaries, the film begins when she is a child and molested by her husband, and runs through her life, culminating in her surrender. There's a lot to tell and the director, Shehkar Kapur, only delays on scenes for dramatic effect. Otherwise, it's a pretty quick trip. This fast pace however tends to diminish the character of Phoolan. A lot of the time the actress Seema Biswas is left to stare at the camera or grimace at whoever is giving her grief. She best connects with the audience in the extended scene where she beats her husband in revenge and her pain is as palpable as his. Apart from a slow patch towards the end, the film is well directed and eminently watchable. Kapur shoots about half in the rocky desert and the lighting is pale and subdued, as opposed to the expected sun drench, which contrasts with the dark faces of the actors. It is also carried along by the jaunty music of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and climaxes in the operatic massacre sequence. We get the abandoned baby crying amongst chaos but a payoff as well. The film takes a pretty hard line on the sexism of Hinduism. Nearly all the men are portrayed as being obsessed with women as objects of lust. As a low caste woman, Phoolan is destined to be a powerless victim so the fact that she overcame her social disability is probably the reason for the interest in her existence. She is raped so many times during the film that we start to wonder why she doesn't get pregnant and Kapur makes her gang-rape resonant by using the screech of a swinging door to show the traffic. When Phoolan expresses her desire it is not surprising that it is mixed with anger considering her past and Biswas and her heartthrob bandit play out this scene exquisitely. We laugh everytime we hear someone called a "sisterf**ker" since it is said so often. A quibble is Kapur not explaining the political and religious allegiances so that they simply seem generic."
Shocking, horrific and at times, depressing...
James Krishna | Sydney, New South Wales Australia | 01/12/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Bandit Queen is the true story of Phoolan Devi, a wronged innocent in traditional India. The stories depicted in this film are all true. The filming is harsh and some of the scenes are gut-wrenching. But even still, black comedy and unconventional romance are thrown in, all for good measure. Even though Seema Biswas is the centre star in this film, Nirmal Panday is the one who deserves maximum credit for his onscreen charisma and presence, as he plays Vikram Mallah to perfection. A definite thumbs up, but not for the light-hearted."
THE EVIL THAT MEN DO!
Peter Shelley | 05/26/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"POOLAN DEVI - PERSEVERANCE, When we stand before god, there is no caste system we are all equal. Poolan - a rape survivor, proved to herself after many traumatic events she was able to retain her honor and gain the respect of her people and people from around the world. Keep your eyes on the road you travel. That is the only one you have the power to change. That is the only one you will be walking today..."