Phoolan Devi, India’s notorious Bandit Queen, was gunned down at the age of 37 – yet she continues to live on in the popular imagination. Rape victim and avenging angel, oppressor and oppressed, she finally won respectability, embraced Buddhism, and a seat in Parliament before a barrage of bullets ended it all.
Vengeance. Rape. Murder. Bloodshed. Violence. Her short, chaotic life was indeed the stuff of melodrama, and several artistic ventures have tried to capture its turbulence.
There is a continuing fascination with Phoolan Devi’s life, and in her latest avatar she is the central figure in an opera – ‘Phoolan Devi: The Bandit Queen’