The Gang Rape Scene in Bandit Queen

Udayan asked : When I watched Bandit queen and perticularly the scene where She was being gang raped. I almost throwed up during that scene and took me about a week to get over it. How did you managed to film that scene? I mean the intensity that you put into that scene simply can’t be just direction!

Udayan, any film maker that can tell u exactly how he/she planned to execute a scene is either lying or was being completely dishonest about the shooting of the scene. I merely locked myself in a room and tried to imagine what being raped was being liked. I went into myself and realized that the body, the mind and the soul must escape the body to escape the utterly humiliating and defiling act.
So I went for that. To shoot the whole thing in a surreal fashion _ as if it was the mind was trying to escape the body.
If u look carefully though the scene is put together in a series of close ups intercut with the opening and closing fo doors. When I was filming I kept throwing up because I was recalling the emotions that I was experiencing imagining myslef being raped. The crew could not understand – for what they saw was me shooting a lot of close ups and opening and closing of doors.
I wanted to stop filming, and it was ony my DP Ashok Mehta who insited that I kept filming.
I have said this in press before, and got a lot of flak from feminists who ask how I dare say that as a man I can somewhere understand what rape feels like for a woman. I disagree. I am hoping that underneath our sex we are all human. It is a human being that I was experiencing being raped. Morover the making of Bandit Queen made me much more comfortable with my feminine self. As all of us are both feminine and masculine in different degrees.
It was the feminine self in me that felt the force of that violation.

102 thoughts on “The Gang Rape Scene in Bandit Queen

  1. Hi Shekhar,
    Cool. So you’ve wrapped up the shooting of Golden Age. Congrats. Now you’d have the time to catch up with all the other movies which released recently. Did you see Fanaa, Krrish and Omkara? I liked all of them and Omkara being the most recent is still fresh in my memory. Personally, I loved the movie.
    In one of his post-release press interviews, Vishal Bharadwaj has spoken highly of you when his film was being compared with The Bandit Queen. Inspite of all the kudos that film has received for its impeccable direction and actors’ performances, the film is being criticised for using crude language and cusswords throughout the movie. That will affect Omkara’s box office collections as the family audience would keep away. People are saying that the language used in Bandit Queen was worse. What’s your take on this? Spotted Yashji (Chopra) yesterday at Cinemax watching a show of Omkara.
    Wasn’t Vishal going to direct Mantra for you? What’s the latest on that project? Hope to catch up with you when you’re back in Mumbai.

  2. Shekharji
    Your writing shows how intense u r and how deep u think. No wonders, u make great films. Like to see more indian movies made by u. Come back to India and make indian movies.
    keep smiling…..

  3. Hi Shekhar,
    I liked the way you indulge into the scene, by putting yourself in the shoes of a protagonist in the scene being filmed 🙂

  4. Hi Shekhar, Thanks for the reply. I think, I was little bit too much involved in the scene and was imagining what is going on beyond those opening and closing doors. I was just sitting there imagining more about the men who are “having sex” with a virtually dead woman. To this day I am not sure what to call this. Anyways, I appreciate you replied.

  5. Having lived in U.P., seeing what language my uncle (who was a UP police officer) used in the police station, I feel that if Bandit Queen had the language spoken by the characters cleaned-up, the movie would have lost a huge impact on me.
    Every movie doesn’t have to be a family movie. In fact I’d rather have more movies with content that is not suitable for children. And I don’t mean porn – living in the US I have enough access to porn. I mean serious movies that deal with real world issues or story lines that I’d rather not expose my young children too.
    Anyway, a lot of family movies from Bollywood do not have any cusswords, but they have a lot of content that I feel is unsuitable for young children. Song lyrics, Song videos, soft porn etc.

  6. Hi Shekhar,
    I cant even imagine how it must be to be raped so as far as I am concerned it doesnt matter if the person involved is a man or a woman. Rape is rape is rape is rape. Of course the majority of people who get raped are women but then so do some men. At one time I would have agreed with people who said that it is not possible for a man to feel what rape must be like.
    I think it is a human ‘experience’ that at the moment is inflicted on women.

  7. I am impressed by your works. Rape can be both physical and mental! Mental rape is the worst of its kind. I have myself been a victim of psychological violence and am still gathering the pieces of my life

  8. Shekhar:
    Just got a chance to look at your weblink/blog. It’s amazing and fantastic for readers to actually share views with you. I didn’t think it was this simple. Bravo and thanks.
    I watched Bandit Queen when I was in early 20’s in select few theaters in Hyd where it was released. Our (me and some of my good friends) curiosity was to watch a woman naked on Indian screen(Yes, we were one of those perverts back then)… but as we came out of the theaters, apart from being ashamed of our intent, we also felt quite raped in thought. I may not remember the film to it’s details… but what I do remember is the feeling we carried with us as we walked out of the theater. It was not about rape, it was not about abuse, it was the whole film. I think as a film maker… you did that brilliantly.
    Today when I start doing films, I do try to figure out the math behind getting me to that feeling(as an audience), so that I could write and film with that intensity. I tried all film grammar, my emotional state, facts of life and all that crap. Nothing really made sense about what really hit me watching the Bandit Queen.
    Rape is about having to surrender and get violated against our will . I believe everyone in the universe is subject to this at some point or the other in thought (Politically we get raped daily India or anywhere). To some unfortunate(female or male) it morphs to physical abuse too.
    I did enjoy all of your other films. Masoom, Mr.India being top on my list for entertainers. Congratulations on all the success you had and will continue to have. You truly deserve it.
    Best wishes,

  9. dear Shekhar
    sizzlingtree has written something similar to what I’d been thinking, that the experience of rape is not limited to the feminine side. there are more kinds of rape than sexual rape, too. men are just as vulnerable as women to having their wholeness assaulted. an attack on one’s power and wholeness — that’s what rape is.
    I’m so excited about your shooting being over, because it brings the film release date closer.
    love, Heather

  10. dear sir,
    there is one thing i know for sure, it takes alot out of a person just to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and then to imagine something so awful happen to you must have been quite the challenge…

  11. Hi Shekhar
    I am doing a story on shortage of water in the future which will spark off conflicts as you are going to show in your film Paani. It would be fantastic to be able to talk to you. Is there a number I can contact you? …and I always felt uncomfortable about the projection of her rape in the Bandit Queen because …it made me baulk but its nice to hear that the ‘feminine’ part of you felt the sickness as well.

  12. Dear All, It is the best movie I ever saw. I am serching the music CD of this movie. can anybody help.

  13. hi shekhar,
    happy to know that you are in India. I read you regularly, sometimes it gives me more stuff for my thought.As you are here now, share somthing with the young Indian film enthusiasts and aspirants like me.wishing you great stay…
    srini andoju

  14. Dearest Shekahrji,
    Remmber Me? Pre- Bandit queen Happend to you. A guy Calling you Late night, and You being so generously tolerant. You sent me to Raman Kumaar as you had no film then . Franckly , no other human bieng has influenced my life the way you have. The impact you made with film Masoom and Mr. India. I touched me so immensely at the age of seven , I started looking for the man who has so much power to communicate . Since , then my adoration and admiratiion for you kept growing every day. Most of miss call in those days were mine , I confess . Belive me you, at tewnty seven , I still dream of you.In a hope , one my dreamshall be realised and I shall meet you. touch you. And confirm myself , that GOD, does exist. Your Ardent admirer, Sagar Vazare.

  15. shekar,
    i am kedar shankar, from vijayawada,A.P
    feel happy in sending this message to you.
    spielberg’s schlinder’s list rewound the Hollocoust, Shekar kapur’s Bandit queen presented REality.
    let the history rewound again with Elizabeth-the golden age.
    cell no: 09849538251

  16. Shekar,
    I read this post a while back and came back to it, while re-reading some of your posts.
    I suppose we do have a feminine as well as masculine sides, and the way Bandit queen was handled was needless to say very powerfully striking.
    I see however very few directors/producers willing to deal with real issues. Why is it that movies closer to real life and dealing with the fine tapestry of life relegated to being “parallel cinema” meant only for the so called “educated classes”. Will not the common man associate to these much better than folks cocooned in a certain lifestyle?
    Or is it just what is classified as “Entertainment” and expectations set from cinema over decades.
    P.S. I’ve been trying to track down the original soundtrack for Bandit Queen, for ages now. Would you be aware of any website/place where i can pick it from.

  17. Dear Shekhar,
    IN some of ur interviews i have seen you talking about ‘karmic’ connections and of you really believe in KARMA, and do you really think that some things are bound to happen. i would also like to ask you, are you also interested in hearing about stories from us ,ie. astranger, if yes i would surely like 2 share my story with you. .. where can i submit my story is another question i would like to ask if ur answer to my previous question is in affirmative. thanx

  18. Hi shekher
    well there are so many fans of u i m just one of them a huge fan of bandeet queen.what i observe that people r discussing about BQ in very limited dimensions of “Arts and Asthetics”. A movie always has a very large socio-political dimensions. but i don’t know why we always try to escape from all these realties.Well BQ is a great movie which compelled us to think about indian state and societ.
    I had a request to u that i love music of bandeet queen but unfotunatly i have lost all the recordings of the movie. i searched a lot for the audio CD/cassette of BQ but i did’t found it although VCDs of the movie is availeble in the market but that didn’t had the full versions of songs sung by Late Mr. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.Can u send me a recording of the music of the movie.thanx
    Ritesh Kumar
    Room NO-125
    Jhelum hostel
    Jawaharlal Nehru University
    New Delhi-67

  19. hi shekhar
    Everybody is so offensly talking about the rape scene ithink they must watch the rape scene of IRREVERSIBLE executed on Monica Balucci.that is more real, more brutel and more beautiful.Infact exellent. what is ur opinion about the scene?

  20. Dear Shekhar ji,
    I like music of Bandit queen a lot. I had a casstte of the film but i lost it. Now i m not able to get this casstte at any music shop. Could u pls adv. me where i can get it.

  21. I am ot sure Paresh, I have searched for it myself and not found it. I will call the producer and if possible I will put the info out on my blog, thanks. Shekhar

  22. Hi,
    Dear Sekharji,
    Same thing… i am not able to find cassete, cd, dvd or online song of bandit queen..
    pls. guide me or pls. upload songs on site so we can get those.
    Thank you..

  23. hi
    just wanted to know from where can i buy the music of Bandit Queen which was released on Big B

  24. I myself have trouble finding the film. But I know the DVD is available. I did write to Mr Bachchan asking that I would like to do a Director’s Commentary on the film. But he did not bother to reply which I found strange. Shekhar

  25. Namastey Shekharji!
    While watching ‘Shekhar Kapur Unedited’ today on NDTV, while sitting in my Bangalore home, I got to know about your website. Its wonderful for me surfing through your website.
    Before I watched Bandit Queen I didn’t kno who Shekhar kapur is and who made Masoom and Mr India, though I had watched both of them by then. For me Shekhar Kapur was born on the day when I first watched Bandit Queen in the Regent Cinema Hall of Patna sometime in 2005 (when I was studying +2) and so was born a new realm of my own personality with a new outlook towards life and everything.
    Believe me I came out of the cinema hall with high fever gripping my body and soul. I could only relate that to my exposure to a new and hard reality of life. However, when I read your notes here on your website few minutes back I could finally see that finer and subtle line of humanity and human emotions and feelings and sufferings stretched across the sky of my thoughts and feelings even above the clouds of man and woman. Today, probably, I can understand the reason of that fever that gripped me for a day.
    In the movie I remember the scenes when Phoolan Devi was molested by Vikram Mallah Mastana’s gang-leader, then she making love to Vikram and then she being gang-raped. I remember an incident when a lawyer standing for a rapist pleaded in the court that a woman enjoys the intercourse even while being raped. That may be medically correct but no doubt the judge kicked this point of his to the trash-bin. But of course, this lead me to think that how far can we go to being insensitive of something like rape and fail to recognise the thin line netween physical pleasure and the escaping soul (as you have wonderfully identified and written in your notes) of a rape-victim. Isn’t it like the difference between frying our mouth-watering delicacies in a hot boiling oil and drinking the hot boiling oil itself.
    I read spiritual texts also and in that course of mine few years back I was reading about ‘Chakras’ (grossly interpreted as psychic centres)in a human system. Although there are many chakras in a human system responsible for different realms of mind, soul and the human system as a whole, there are seven major ones. Amongst them ‘Mooladhar,’ the lowest one situated in the ‘Sukra Naadi’ is responsible for feelings of sex, fear and insecurity. For us its the lowest and for animals, who are considered lower in evolution than us, its the highest. So, for them sex is the best thing they can achieve in their lifetime and for us its the lowest. Then I correlate this with the Physics of atoms and energy. It says that the electrons tend to be in their lowest energy state until and unless they are excited with the required quanta of energy externally. Agan spiritually speaking and taking the above-said notes from physics in conjunction I understood (from spiritual texts) that for humans the presence of an external force is not must, its within the human system itself. Both the detonator and the bomb are within us but must of us fail to unite them and continue living and thinking and behaving like animals, which is yet another aspect of a human nature. After all, we too have ascended through similar lines as our animal friends in the journey of evolution. Those animal ‘sansakaras’ are very much present and we continue to be in those lowest states of our energy despite of having the triggers. May be we do need external triggers like ‘Jaambvant’ had been to ‘Hanuman.’ So, probably, if this is properly told and explained to us we may start discovering the larger part of a human self.
    In our country we do have a number of such holy souls who take this as a mission, of course through different path, but still a larger croud still needs to be awakened.
    All this idea in no way undermines the emotional and sexual asperations and necessicities of the larger crowd, be it for pleasure or fun or spirituality. But may be we can ascend in our ways of action and reaction and perceptions to different aspects of a human life, sex and rape being amongst them.
    I had read an article of yours in Sunday Times some 12 years back wherein you had written a poem. Few lines in the poem described homeless people living in pipes in Mumbai and using the road-sides and the hose-pipes as their place to shit. Today again when I listened to you there was the same Shekhar Kapur trying to find sky for those who may soon start living under hundreds of fly-overs and towering buildings. In this sense I can somehow correlate myself to you.
    Earlier I din’t know what to do when such disturbing thoughts hit me. Then I discovered writing as a part of my skills and started penning-them down on paper or computer screens through poems, blogs and all such similar stuff. It is of immense pleasure and honour for me sir! to share my thoughts with you today.
    I’ll keep imagining your existence and I’m sure you keep existing for all of us including yourself 🙂

  26. hi shekhar,
    This is the first time am visiting your site. as i browsed through the different array of topics on this site, this was definitely somethin that caught my eye.. i had seen bandit queen way back. but this rape scene still lingers in the mind somewhere. you mentioned that u imagined yourself in the protagonist`s position while preparin for this scene. is this how you prepare for every scene. that is do you always go through each scene like that.and also you mentioned bout how a director would be lyin if he says he knew exactly how he wanted to shoot a scene.. but isnt it true that u always have a written account of how to shoot each scene as a director. do reply. i jus wanna know your perspective on direction. i wanna understand your style.
    thank you for your time

  27. you are a charismatic director. i would like to meet you to share a wonderful script which i have written and treasured it for years.
    iam not a marketing please contact me.
    thanking you

  28. i need bandit queen songs very urgently
    couldn’t find them anywhere, not in any shop,
    nor on the net.
    please let me knw from where i would get it.

  29. Dear Sir
    I have no words to talk with you and say some thing about Bandit queen . It was ultimate direction and Music by Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was ultimate .When first time I saw this film in 1996,I had gone to some other stage of mind and it took 7 days to bring to normal stage.
    That time I was 20 . After that I had seen that film two more time and purchased the Audio cassette.
    The music given Ustad had touched my soul , I had become fan of Ustad nusrat F Khan .
    Sir how did it come to your mind that this person can compose such great music for your film .
    Sir have you read OSHO’s “glimses of golden childhood” .
    Would you like to make film on This .
    any way
    I want Lyrics of all songs of Bandit queen. Where can I get it.

  30. Hi Shekhar,
    I drop by your blog regularly and enjoy a lot of your articles, though admittedly I have never gotten down to responding. The reason why I have come out of my lethargy to respond today is because this article has touched a raw nerve….
    I have a confession to make…. I could never build up courage to watch Bandit Queen. I have read about the scene, about the film, but as woman I did not have the guts to sit through the explicit gang-rape depiction. I was 20 when Bandit Queen came out. Ever since I have watched a lot of gut-wrenching films, war films, I sat through Ray’s Apu Trilogy and have been affected for days with the film (in a different way). I am ready to revisit a lot of those films… but Bandit Queen?..No. I can’t. I don’t have the guts. I have seen parts of the film, and the sense of foreboding doom doesn’t let me go further. And that in itself is the greatest tribute to your sensitivity as a film-maker.
    Filmy rape scenes are more comic than anything else(there is a famous rejoinder to the ‘Mujhe bhagwan ke liye chod do’ refrain which goes ‘Bhagwan ke paas bahut apsarayen hain.. wo tumhara kya karega’!)…
    Joke apart, Indian popular cinema has trivialized the greatest trauma of womankind year after year, film after film. Even well-meaning films like Amiya Chakraborthy’s ‘Patita’ did not really dwell on the trauma of the rape,(though it did make an honest appeal to rehabilitate the victim). But the 50s were a gentler time and today all I remember about that film is the wonderful songs and how handsome Dev Anand looked!
    Another contemprary film that probably got a little way there was ‘Damini’.. but then it got lost somewhere too. Bandit Queen probably remains a milestone in that aspect and coming from a male filmmaker….it is a double tribute.

  31. Shekharji, i wld like 2 say dat ur movies always tlls d truth.I mn,u hv all d universal fct in movies dat can nt b ignord .No doubt u r a uncomparable Director .Keep doin .

  32. Hi Shekhar
    I am planning to do my dissertation about the portrayal of women in bollywood with specific reference to women in insurgent/avtivist and militant orgnisation.did not know how to contact you except through this site.Request you to please advise if you would be able to share your thoughts about the topic.

  33. Following is a comment I posted in response to DK Matai’s Post at intentblog : Ashtavakra Gita and Advaita — How to be happy?
    I have struggled all my life with people trying to give themselves license to do any thing by selectively quoting Ashtavakra Gita.They would also tell me that Bhagwat Gita is for the lay masses but Ashthavakra for the specially gifted.
    It is almost as if the rapers of Phoolan Devi would later on quote Ashthavakra, take a dip in Ganges and lo they are as pure as ever-As if nothing ever happened.
    This comment is my dream vengeance to all of them:
    Ashtavakra is usually misquoted selectively for wrong ends.Here’s how:
    Ashtavakra said:
    ” Righteousness and unrighteousness, pleasure and pain are purely of the mind and are no concern of yours. You are neither the doer nor the reaper of the consequences, so you are always free. ”
    People generally forget he is not just advising to get above good and evil or righteousness and unrighteousness but also pleasure and ‘pain’.
    Well if you can really get over ‘pain’ nothing else really is required to be said or done.You may do any bloody thing -rape,murder,loot etc while just remembering dear old Ashtavakra and remaining a sagacious witness all the time.
    Pain(physical,emotional,intellectual) is all that we all are trying to run from.All these philosophies,spiritual agony,discussions,humility just for one pursuit to save ourselves from pain and find happiness and also pleasure(if it can be availed without the accompanying pain).
    Lets not distort truth:Righteousness is important.We are and will be being held responsible.
    Even Bhisma the great could not be spared in Mahabharata who just stood (above like) witness to Draupadi’s vastra-haran(forceful tearing down of her clothes to shame her in front of the whole court of Hastinapur)

  34. Dear Shekharji,
    Nice movie and it had some beautiful songs sung by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan….I am looking for the music of Bandit Queen…..
    Please help me where to get it..

  35. Hi
    Listened to the song “Sanware” today in a singing talent hunt show on tv n was desparately trying to download the song when came across this site and found that lots of people are already in search of the album….so its my request to all to please let me know where to get hold of the cd or casette from in and around delhi or online. plz, plz, plz…

  36. I hereby sincerely request Mr.SHEKHAR KAPOOR to please release the music & also the MOVIE BANDIT QUEEN once again as BIGGER EVENT and as REVISITED!!
    The reason being, I think many of the INDIANS would really be able to accept the movie in a better way now as the MATURITY seems to have finally visited more of us!!

  37. Namaskar Shekar Ji
    I heard the song Sanware at zee tv Voice of India, i am a big fan of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Saheb. I am not able to get the original song anywhere on the website. can you please send the link to download.
    God Bless Us

  38. looking for Bendit queen music, why it is so hard to find , please let me know if you find some where.

  39. Dear Shekhar Ji,
    I heard Sanware song in Zee TV and become a big fan of it. I have been trying to download it from the net but surprisingly unable to do so. Pleeeeeeaaaassssse help me on getting the same.
    God bless you.
    Lalit Mohan

  40. Yippie! At last i got the music. Pehle plz bolo koi, then i will post the link here……..

  41. Hi Manisha,
    Can you please provide the link for the song. Desperatley looking for that song.

  42. hi shekhar sir!
    i m one of ur great fans.i m from pakistan. i just wanna say that we love u n ur films be it masoom ,mr india,paani.u r a very sensitive director and a very great human being.may god always bless u with more good films.
    lots of love

  43. Hello Shekhar,
    I was very small when your Bandit queen was released and my mom would not let me watch it. I saw the movie only today and man! hats off to you.
    The whole thing has been reaming in my head. I just loved the whole you have showed us the whole thing.Phoolan Devi’s story was a good subject to take up but showing the entire story to us as though we are experiencing and facing the ugly world…was just so natural.
    Kudos to your creativity and Talent!
    New York

  44. Hey, i thought i posted the link for bandit queen songs earlier too, but seems it was not accepted 🙁
    sorry guys…

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