DIRECTOR: SHEKHAR KAPUR
COUNTRY: INDIA 1995
CINEMATOGRAPHY: ASHOK METHA
MUSIC: NUSKAT FATEH ALI KHAN
CAST: Scema Biswas, Nirmal Panday, Manoj Bajpai, Rajesh Nandeo, Sauradh Shukla, Rachuvir Yadav
SUPER FEATURES: Wow.... but not for everyone!!!
Few films will ever punch you as hard as this film does. Perhaps it is not the film itself that matters but its story and subject matter.
This is an extremely brutal film, one that speaks for many women, although how it does so, is not something that many people in a western society is willing to go through, even in a movie.
Phoolan Devi, is married off at age 13 to support her parents. The man who buys her, is more interested in satisfying his own social status than he is interested in a woman, or marriage. But he succumbs to the tradition, and he takes up his wife, even when people make fun of him for not finding anyone but a child.
Phoolan is basically raped. And she runs away. In the running away, she manages to find some work, but ends up in a place where a few young boys are expecting to get their satisfaction out of her. She has very little taste for men, specially patience, and one of the boys makes a strong pass at her. She fights her way out of it, but ends up in the village court where she is found guilty and jailed. Here her assault continues
and she is raped by the guards as "penance" before being allowed to leave. She has to leave town because it is basically run by a family
that does not like her caste. They continue the abuse.
By chance, she ends up joining a group of outlaws, whose job seems to be to chase food for their own members at the cost of the authorities. And here she seems to get better known, and respected, and even finds a lover that she can take up with. However, it is not without pain and
struggle with herself that she can finally give herself to him and not suffer from her past abuses.
Phoolan eventually becomes a leader in the gang, something that many men do not like at all, but for the most part, they realize that this is an important move as it gets her heard about and famous. She returns one time to the town that abused her seriously, and she gets her revenge
in an awful display of carnality, not unlike the abuse that she suffered. She even says so.
The Hindu authorities begin going after her, and use the brother of the one man that accused her in the first time. They do not succeed, but by this time the press is all over the situation, and the Hindu leaders, now know that they can not kill her, or risk a serious war, or political upheaval. Although many of the local people do not care for this situation, they give in. She is asked to turn herself in, and to her credit when this happens there are thousands and thousands of people waiting for her, and the news media.
We know that now she will be heard and that her suffering may not exactly be in vain, although most of India is still involved in a caste system that the British fostered as a way to keep many of them under control. And Phoolan Devi's story is heard.
This is the film of a true story. And her story had some very serious consequences in the political life of many people, specially those who were the authorities in the areas she came from. Many are still in prison for it. Eventually, Phoolan was released and she has been treated since then as a heroine, who stood up for something very important, dignity, and specially that of WOMAN, in a system that doesn't give a shit about women, but uses them mercilessly.
One of the most powerful films I have ever seen, and the abuses that it displays is no less serious that a reality the whole world over. It is
indeed sad that for these situations to get an ear, many have to die, and that one has to suffer such a hard punishment, but all we can hope
is that their plight is not in vain. In this case it was not, but it is clear that many have failed where Phoolan did not.
The fact of the matter may have been that women were/are not respected as women at all, but are meant to be subservient to men in all aspects of life. This is the 20th century, and this is something that is very much alive, the whole world over, and many countries still have this
type of insulting and demeaning behavior in their social mores. It is time that we make it clear that this is not needed, and neither is it supported.
This film is the clearest attack on this matter I have ever seen. They say that India has power because of its history. In this case its history is also the power that is destroying it in the modern day. Can it be saved and changed.? I think this is the real point of the film.
Extremely brutal, savage is the word, film, not only in the violent aspects of it, but with its unbelievable sexual attack. Phoolan Devi, I'm sorry that you have suffered so much, but I praise your spirit, and what you have stood for, and we need more of you in this day and age over run by too many men.
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