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Phulan Devi

Updated on August 5, 2015

Response Paper about "Phoolan Devi" Film

Aniradha Ramanujan investigated the life story of Phoolan Devi according to Mala Sen’s biography in 1991, the Shekhar Kapur’s controversial 1994 film Bandit Queen and the auto biography I, Phoolan Devi. In her article, the author didn’t focus on the “victimization” of Phoolan’s experience but focused on her life story that “offering insight into the operation of power (Spivak, “Political Economy” 227)” formed the unique ‘self’ (368). When the author read Phoolan Devi’s life story, she concentrated on the subaltern space that “occupied by the testimonial subject” on those three biography of Phoolan Devi (368). She used the word “betrayal” in controversial way in her article to negotiate between aspiration to build unification and unification across different caste, class and religion within the biographies through feminist practice. The film Bandit Queen based on Mala Sen’s Biography, India’s bandit Queen:The True Story of Phoolan Devi. The author signified that Mala Sen’s biography of Phoolan Devi represented rape as a women issue where lower caste women are being raped by higher class man and as a lower caste women, Phoolan Devi, had attached sexual violence. However, Ramanujan claimed on her article that, Shekhar Kapur represented on his film Bandit Queen that Phoolan Devi became bandit because Phoolan wanted to get revenge due to the village people rape her. That is the misinterpretation of Pholan Devi’s triumph though Arundhati Roy and Madhu Kishwar notify this film “serving up as ‘truth’”. 369 She gave an example where Phoolan Devi’s said, “It’s simply not the story of my life, so how can they claim that it is? [ … ] In the film I’m portrayed as a sniveling woman, always in tears, who never took a conscious decision in her life. I’m simply shown as being raped, over and over again. (Weaver 100)” (370)

At the end the article A. Rmanujan confessed that she took the position of “native informer” and answered her student about caste and religion of South Asian life and politics with mostly negative approach while she tough in World Literature at the University of Florida. Then she also confessed that this article might be forced to negotiate the reader about Phoolan Devi and she assumed that it could be betrayal also! Then she raised a vital questions:

- “What is responsible self-positioning in the context of current debates over representation within the anti-caste and feminist movement?”


A Ramanujan critically analyzed between three biographies and the movie Bandit Queen with ‘woman issue’ perspective as well as she critic herself also. However, she excluded why Shekhar Kapur focused on rape and women violence in his film Bandit Queen. In India or in South Asian country when a woman is raped, society blames them and she bound to attempt suicide. Again, when a film maker makes film he need to focus on an issue otherwise viewer will be confused while they watch movie. In this circumstance, if Bandit Queen focused on everything about Phoolan Devi the viwer might be confused thus the film focused on one a woman, Phoolan Devi and focused on the main issue of her life.


Work Citation:

Ramanuja, Anuradha. “The subaltern, the text and the critic: Reading Phoolan Devi”. Journal of Postcolonoal Writting 44.4 (2008): 367-378. Print


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