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A 1994 film directed by Shekhar Kapur, starring Seema Biswas as Phoolan Devi aka The Bandit Queen. The film claims to be a true story (they even put it in text at the beginning of the film: "This is a True Story.") but has received much criticism for not only playing fast and loose with the facts, but for focusing so much on rape that parts of the film border on pornographic.

The attitude toward rape bothered many people as well, especially Arundhati Roy who wrote a scathing pair of articles about the film titled The Great Indian Rape-Trick (parts 1 & 2). To quote: "Rape is the main dish. Caste is the sauce that it swims in." and "Bandit Queen -the film, does not make a case against Rape. It makes its case against the Rape of nice (read moral), women." These articles led to several lawsuits against Arundhati Roy.

This film has had so many lawsuits and counter lawsuits that they are hard to keep track of. It was banned in India for awhile, but not anymore. Phoolan Devi herself was never consulted in the making of the film and has brought lawsuits against the filmmaker for libel.

A much better source of information about Poolan Devi is the book India's Bandit Queen: The True Story of Phoolan Devi by Mala Sen.

Accurate or not, it is a supremely powerful movie. Yes, the rape incidents are very much in the forefront of the plot, but still, several years after the only time I saw this movie, various other scenes stand out clearly in my mind. Most notably not connected with rape or oppression of women in any way is the incident through which Phoolan receives her nickname, Devi - goddess, holy one.

Reccomended despite the controversy. The spectacle of her surrender to the Indian police itself is worth years of education in political studies - unless I am deceived by my sources, the tens of thousands of extras in that scene were voluntees who showed up out of respect to the vanquished Queen.

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