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,
    I have watched this film when i was 19 yrs old. The subject of the film was so serious and only matured (mentally) viewers were supposed to watch it. But unfortunatly many immatured viewers were present in cinema hall, curiosly waiting for rape scene and abusive dialogues. It was disgusting when many of them were laughing on abusive dialogues but worst case was about to come. Many viewers were clapping, shouting and whistling when rape scene and the scene where seema biswas was made naked infront of whole village. I dont know why they came for watching this picture, perhaps only for uncomman nude scens and abusive dialogues.
    Anyway, it was one of the fines films on real life stories. These types of films should be produced atleast once in a year, but i think you are not planning to do so because of the possibilities of controverties that always take place in India after release of such immense films.
    I have some good news for fans of great Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and those who (like me), have been searching for songs of Bandit Queen. Five of the songs from Bandit Queen are available for listening on “”. They sound quality is awsome and most important is their availability. Just go to that site and search by “Bandit Queen” and enjoy finest work done by Ustad sahab. One thing to tell u all, enjoy those songs but keep searching for remaining songs, especially “Chhoti si umar”. Shekhar, i think you also will listen to these timeless beauty and hope u will cherish the memories of that time.
    Bye all

  2. Have you given any thought on doing a film on “Katherine the Great”? Another strong minded lady who brought her adopted country of Russia out of darkness. Just a thought…
    With “Elizabeth” and “Golden Age” you have made a female character that both men and women can relate to.
    Thank you for thought provoking and stirring movies…and…
    congratulations on “The Golden Age” and your upcoming “Golden Globe”!
    Congratulations on your upcoming Golden Globe for “Golden Age”!!

  3. SIR,HI this is amit who also like to come in creative industry and make movies to share my senses and emotions for movies.I have several ideas and stories and want to bring these out from my mind and heart.But some says i would not clik in this field.I dont care what they say.When i see movies,great movies they inspired me lot and i wander when i could make a masterpiece.Sir really this is my desire and dream please help me to achieve or guide me.Sir right now i m studing company secretary as well earning money.Sir i also heard that u hav done CA,how u came in this field.i know education is essential in life as well for life,but these stories also have the right to ALIVE…
    Sir i hope u would understand me as u also went through this situation in your pasts.
    Sir i am waiting for ur reply.Plz say something.
    Sir one more thing i want see u direct more movies…
    right know i want make 3 movies…1.An Animation based on a fish and its struggle to become again a fish,it a nice story and people love it and cry,almost completed,2.Based on special soldiers and extraordinary guys….,and 3rd is about An Agent of UN,only starrings Amitabh,Abhisek,Kabir Bedi,Aksay kumar,Ajay devgan and WORLD…If i get a chance and best team as well environment…I have sequels of all also.

  4. Hello Mr. Kapur,
    While viewing the Pictures related to Bomb Blast in Pakistan re. Mrs. Benazir’s return to Pakistan, at Yahoo Site, I came across a picture of yours, standing next to actors Cate Blanchet and Geoffrey Rush.
    You have been mentioned as a “Pakistani Director” and being your Fan I wish to know since when you had become a “Pakistani Citizen”. If you had taken Pakistani Citizenship, then it’s fine and does make sense, otherwise that news should be rectified instantly.
    I wish I could post the picture with the briefing of that event given by some Press/media, but I can paste the web link below, so that you can view the picture and that brief write up about you and your co-artistes, in order to clarify my remarks without offending any community or relegion :;_ylt=Ao1.MLqsY2UxmrQGAahC14UZO7gF#
    With Best Wishes,
    Rajeev Gangadharan
    Florida, USA

  5. Shekhar ji !
    I 100% agree that the rape scene was a real heavy dose and the way it was filmed, it did 100% justice to what situation was being depicted. The film was fabulous.

  6. dude you are my hero, i love all yourfilms i have them all on video and DVD, TWICE! just wanted to say when im a director i want to be just like you baby!

  7. I am probably one of the few who has still not seen this film as yet!!
    I guess having lived in India during heydays of Phoolan Devi, I succumbed to ‘Phoolan-Fatigue’ and must have convinced myself of “If anyone says Phoolan Devi, I will shoot them”!!
    After moving away from India, the passage of distance and time, the void culture and values, and subsequent reading and hearing about the creation of this film by a veritable magician, Shekhar Kapur, I guess I will be hunting down the DVD pretty much pronto!
    Not only have I missed seeing a good film, but I realised I missed out all these years, of listening to a wonderful, diving song by the vocal maestro Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. The song; “Saaanware tore bin jiyaa jaaye na”
    It is sad that this music is not readily available in the market and that too, with the Big B’s name attached to it. Shows the BigB in very small and poor light, I must say.
    For those who want to listen to ‘Saanware’: Go to:

  8. I must say, it was really new to me to hear that we all have both feminine n masculine in every human, i mean, i started looking the world in a bit of diffrent way..even i was also little disturbed for few days after watching BANDIT..!although i m also a film maker, but besides that whenever i go to watch any movie, my whole mind comes to a single view of concentration of a normal but regular audience..I never observe, never calculate the technical asspects of the film, i just go with the movie, and it sounds funny shekhar but i love every movie, i mean no matter if it is a commercial or very perfectly directed venture or anything just wanna go with the flow. So it affects me for several days after watching..(I had a strong belife for several days that The HUM APKE HAI KAUN family was still leaving happily with RENUKA SHAHNE…now i m ok!

  9. there are very very nice songs in this film. i want song of this film. iam bigest fan of nusrat sahab.

  10. hi shekerji, i am looking for music of bandeet queen, particularly the song ” choti si umar ma parnai o babosa” please help

  11. Respected sir, I like the music of bandit queen.. i wanna but it audio cd.. pls tell me from where i can get it.. i tried a lot in my city… i fail to get it… pls help me.. waiting for ur reply

  12. Hi Mr. K,
    I saw the movie when I was far too young to see it. It affected my deeply and since then I have held you in such high regard and seen the movie again as an adult. Needless to say I took your word for the story to be true.
    Now I am finding out otherwise and doing my research paper about it (I am a student of Psychoanalysis). I have been so affected by this movie that now I need to now what you were thinking that made you so drastically alter the life of a living person under trial and show it to the world.
    What were you thinking? I need to know why you didn’t just portray it as a fictional story.
    Apart from the obvious reasons from my guess, I want to know what brilliant spin a brilliant spinner like you can come up with.

  13. dear JB, all story telling is interpretation. There are c=very few facts after the fact, if you know what I mean. The film was based and interpreted from many conversations that Phoolan Devi had with a writer called Mala Sen, who over a year or so visited Phoolan Devi in prison and wrote down what Phoolan Devi said in a book called India’s Bandit Queen. Now of course the film is based on Phoolan Devi’s own interpretation of her life as she sees it, which may be based not on absolute fact, which then gets re-interpreted for a film. For example if you ask anyone that lost a relative from Behmai for a description of the events, they would have a completely different interpretation from Phoolan’s.
    And then, for a film has to be under two hours or less, and the life is over 40 years ! So what you do in the film is take the essence of that life, and interpret it and condense it to the form of the art that you have chosen. If for example, the art form you chose was Poetry, there would be a different interpretation of the same life.
    What also becomes really important is the point of view that you take on a life. For just as their is no art without the point of view of the artist, there is no story telling without the point of view of the story teller. My point of view in Bandit Queen was to call attention to the system that still prevails in our country on how low caste people, and especially low caste women are viewed and treated. My point of view was also to say that rape is the one crime where the person on whom the crime is committed is held guilty for the crime by society, so much that the person seems to carry that guilt for the rest of her life.
    Your point is correct. Why say at all that it is Phoolan Devi ? But given the same film, do you not think that everyone would have said that why did you not come out clearly and say that the film is based on Phoolan Devi’s life ? I would have been accused of doing that just so the the film’s producers could avoid paying her for the film. This way we had her permission, her assent, and with her concurrence that the film was made, and she got paid for it.
    But it would ne interesting to see what are the main points that you think that the film diverted from what you imagine is the story.

  14. hello shekhar ji,
    i love all the songs of bandit queen. but im unable to understand the lyrics fully specially of chhoti si umar. can u plz tell me where can i find that? or any of the friends reading this can u plz provide the lyrics . i will b extremely thankful to all of you.

  15. Hello shekhar ji,
    I love all the songs of bandit queen. But I’m unable to understand the lyrics fully specially of chhoti si umar. can u plz tell me where can i find that? or any of the friends reading this can u plz provide the lyrics . i will b extremely thankful to all of you.

  16. hello frnds here r the lyrics of chhoti si umar
    chhoti si umar parnai o babasa
    kai tharo karo main kasoor
    hooooo kai tharo karo main kasoor
    thakar jarani thakar nheri
    ab ghar bhejo duja sa, hooooo
    thakar jarani thakar nheri
    ab ghar bhejo duja sa
    muskai mola mora aansuda bole
    muskai mola mora aansuda bole
    hivade bado hai mora door
    thare pipariye ki bholi main chidat ri
    they bolo to ud jaun sa, hooo
    thare pipariye ki bholi main chidat ri
    they bolo to ud jaun sa
    bhejo to bhejo babul marji ho thari
    bhejo to bhejo babul marji ho thari
    sawan mein bulaijo jarur
    hooo chhoti si……..

  17. It’s a wrong concept propageted by pseudo-feminists that men are less emotional then women. Had it been the case I would not have been about to write something like this
    Had it been the case you would not have thrown up during the shoot. I can feel what you felt through during that shoot. I feel the same when I open the newspaper every morning. I have stopped opening newspapers.

  18. hi,shekhar.Iread somewhere that phoolan devi has sexual relationship with her cousin brother[the character played by saurabh shukla].This part was omitted from the script.Is it so that to show phoolan a pure character and she gets more sympathy as otherwise ppl wud have not felt for her.Although thats hypocisy.

  19. I like all of your films.But amongs that my personal favorates are as follows,
    will you please plan a film on J.M Karver? his life is very intresting
    What happend to ur project on lord Krishna?
    Will you like to make a Film on Mahatma Gandhi especially “Extream Bramhacharya” of Mahatma Gandhi…
    Thank you

  20. You are an awesome director and person as well for sure…. you have portrayed character so well that no one could have done.
    The best part is the explanation you have given, it definitely the best explanation that one needs to give for such a movie…. no wonder she has done a amazing job in representing your thoughts.

  21. Dear Shekhar
    I dont know how I missed the song Sanwariya, for so long, but now that I have listened to it, I am completely obsessed by its haunting quality, I must ask you a question that several people have asked: How did it occur to you that ustad Nusrat Feteh Ali would be good for this kind of film music, and how doid you come to know of his great voice and talent? I know that were I in the position, I would forgive you all your sins for having made him create such fabulous music.

  22. Dear Sir, You are simply outstanding. Your all films are incomparable to any films of the world. You are totally different with your own style and picturesque. You have made India proud by making films of International standard. Truly, I wish your forthcoming film “Panni” gets good response and becomes a huge success both commercially and critically. Let it give you an Oscar, I pray. I wish to talk to you. If you can kindly give me your personal mail Id or phone number, I’ll be grateful to you.
    With best wishes & regards,

  23. To all the fans of Bandit Queen and Nusrat Saheb,
    I hope some people are still in searching of Bandit Queen’s soundtrack?
    Just go at and download all 29 tracks of the movie.
    one request to you, please tell where I can get the songs of your film “Gawahi” where you were with Zeenat Aman
    Reply me soon on above Email ID or

  24. Hi Shekhar, When I was too young that time I watched ur movie GAWAHI. Now I need a favour from u that if it is possible for u to spare few minutes from ur busy schedule and tell me where Ill get that movie. I am searching for it for past few years. Or is it possible for u to release that movie on moserbaer or any other company. Thank you

    Hi Shekhar, I was reading comments regarding ‘Bandit Queen’ on your site yesterday and managed to find a copy to watch, which I did a few hours ago. I was uptight as hell all the way through but I just had to see your interpretation of the whole issue of rape (I lost my virginity due to rape when I was 15 which made watching this film a bit harder). I generally avoid ‘feel-bad’ movies, but I just had to make an exception for you… Phoolan Devi’s nightmare of a life was beyond heartbreaking for many reasons. First she was raped at an extremely young age, due to her parents selling her off to some stranger, which was such an ultimate betrayal and violation in itself by those people in her life who were the ones responsible for protecting her. Even afterwards, her parents had the opportunity to stand up for their daughter in front of the village, which would have completely changed the course of events but they chose to betray her again because they didn’t want to be ‘burdened’ with her – that kind of betrayal is just about worse than everything else!… Had Phoolan had loving parents, it may not have protected her from being raped at some stage in her life, but living in a protected environment would have made it far less likely and she most likely would have reacted to the experience in a different way. Despite her parents’ betrayal, she still approached them with love and was still rejected by her heartless father. Despite all those despicable betrayals she still managed to be able to rise above the horror but she just didn’t seem to get a break. And then the worst happened right after she lost the love of her life. To me, the parents are the real violators in this film for having failed in pretty much every way and setting her off to such a bad start. And the saddest part is that there was all this unrealised potential love in her wasted… A single act of rape is something that can be dealt with but a lifetime of nothing but abuse and no support is yet another story… that I found to be the real tragedy in this film… I think you did a great job portraying Phoolan’s story but I’m not in a hurry to watch it again…
    I would like to watch ‘Masoom’ and ‘Mr India’, which I haven’t yet seen but they don’t seem to be available in Australia. Can I (legitimately) download these movies somewhere please? Or do you know an Australian supplier?

  26. hello sir
    i want to come in the industry, i’ve stories for making movies but source,
    so if possible do the needful.
    Kind Regards

  27. Hi Shekhar,
    You have very aptly mentioned about the masculine and feminine side of a human being. Seldom people realise this fact.
    Emotions, feelings and sensitivity don’t have a gender/sex.Like fools riding on lack of realization and sense of wisdom people make rigid bifurcation of how a man feels and how a woman feels….
    It doesnt take the knowledge of rocket science to feel how much humiliated, disgusted and corrupted the soul of a human being feels when acts such as of rape are done! You need not be a woman, you need a heart and soul of a human to relate to the disgusting and henious act.
    It is not just rape of a woman by a man but its an act against someone’s wish, freedom to choose and participate in something that is perhaps done more willfully, respectfully and with meaningfulness. There’s a film called “Bas Ek Pal” starring Sanjay Suri where in he gets raped by a cellmate in prison which also captures the same humiliation and insult to a human by another human by way of force.(in this case by a man to a man)
    Cheers to the rebellious human spirit!

  28. hi SK, reading this triggered some of my bad memories. your words come from ur core and touches our core. I remember watching this movie long ago n the gang rape scene was so touching . I never imagined that I will be raped for four years by a man and fifth year has began. nobody will be able to understand my pain as the man is my husband. this is a licensed rape . I am wondering today is gang rape worse than my situation. I have to get the dvd and watch the movie again. I dread going back home after a holiday. wonder when will I get a permanent holiday. thanks Shekhar ji , I had to open my bottled emotions and your words did that.

  29. dear shekharji
    thank you very much to show the real picture of our society. here
    maximum p

  30. Where can i get the soundtrack of Bandit Queen Vol. 51 and not the mp3 I am unable to find it anywhere Please help me

  31. Dear Sir,
    All of your movies speak your mind and all of them have a genuine flavour of life. Your understanding & appreciation for human values & characteristics is very apparent in the show “India’s got talent”. I still remember your few but very impressive appearances in TV-serial UDAAN :).
    Bandit Queen with its spectacular screenplay and unforgettable music has settled deep down our hearts and minds.
    Please Sir, make more movies.
    deep regards,

  32. Hi Sir,
    It’s kinda embarrassing to say that it was only last night that I hd watched The Bandit Queen. I feel embarrassed and ashamed as I hadn’t even thought of watching the movie,all these years, though I call myself a movie buff!!!!
    I haven’t slept ever since I watched the movie.
    I always knew that Seema Biswas was a great actor after watching “Khamoshi” and her Malayalam flick, “Shantham” . But this movie was just beyond all possible bordrs of acting.
    I have no words to explain my state of mind at this juncture.
    I was a kid when the movie was released and thats’ probabbly why I took so long to watch the same and I guess I was deply immersed in the recent (so-called) off-beat movies.
    I would like to congratulate you from the bottom of my heart to have made such a movie. And I wish I had an opportunity to convey the same to Ms. Biswas as well.
    I wish the bunch of people who sings songs about “The Slummdog Millionare” took some time off to watch this amazing piece of reel.
    Lemme thank you once again for creating such a wonderful movie. Even Magic is just an illusion…but this movie is “real!!!”
    Hats off to you Sir,
    Anoop 🙂

  33. When is Paani rolling??? Just do let me know so that i can give my ideas on it and make ur more richer not necessarily in thoughts but creatively :-())

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