A film of less doubt and more courage : Bandit Queen

From Deepak :”You know Shekhar, today I watched Bandit Queen. I was in early school when it was released and it was out of bounds then. I can’t understand how something made so way back seems to grab me NOW from the first moment. You know this is your most honest attempt. You – simply are not there in the movie, neither is there technique. Nothing..nothing at all sat between me and the murk and dust of chambal. This movie ironically is more ‘masoom’ than any of your other movies including ‘masoom’ itself. Phew..a blast from the past..still so raw and tough and so bloody gritty..
where is that rawness and fearlessness these days(this is not directed so much at you..but at all filmmakers today)..does the passing of time,weathering at the hands of emotions and knowledge cripple the ability of an artist to express instinctively ?”
Thank you Deepak. I always say Bandit Queen is my most honest film in that I just did not allow anything to come between the ‘moment’ and the film. It took courage and sheer obstinacy too. For holding on to my instinct for dear life and shooting so fast that no one had time for doubt. Not even myself. Often thinking too much will cause more doubt and less courage. Partly it was the actors complete faith in what I asked them to do and also in their ability to invent their roles in their own identity. The ravines of Chambal spoke to me constantly and being and living in the harsh environment itself forced an act of adventure that became both challenging and exciting. It was guerrilla film making at it’s most adventurous.
And last not least – this as an ode to the greatest and the most underestimated Director of Photography I know – Ashok Mehta, who’s courage and energy was boundless and from whom I learned much of my visual instincts from. The very same visual style that I adapted for the Elizabeth films

8 thoughts on “A film of less doubt and more courage : Bandit Queen

  1. Shekhar,
    Yes, That is one of your honest works so far…but I know, Your best is still to come and we are waiting for it.
    Best of Regards!

  2. Your films are like your career-diary Shekhar; in that.. it shows the trail of self-growth of person, and as a director with vision. Thankyou Shekhar for sharing your filmed talent with us, your film-fans.. from afar,

  3. Sir,
    The time it was ready for release 9 sep 1994, also is important. We had this Babri demolition Dec 92 , riots thereafter, Mumbai Bomb Blast 1993, and pent up anger and frustration against the Govt. Machinery.
    This film came up to be sharing and identified with feelings and anger frustration of the man on streets.
    Vinod Agarwal – Recalls Handcuffed Film Award

  4. You box yourself in when you worry about over thinking. The possible solution to that maybe every once in a while spice things up with spontaneity.
    Ofcourse Mehtaji is brilliant:)
    So when brilliant talent come together you are bound to create magic:)

  5. There are so many ‘bandit queens’ around us. Everyday. Conveniently tucked away from our sphere of vision, and more often shunned by civil society itself, making for double victimization. They may not all be bandits, but some are certainly queens…
    Check this out and you can’t help concur — http://ibnlive.in.com/news/taking-on-trafficking-mafia-a-true-heroines-tale/46566-3.html
    I have heard Sunitha Krishnan speak live. I have met her. And even had what people might perceive as an ‘Amrithanandamayi moment’ with a hug, and ended up sobbing (ironically it was she comforting me when it should have been the other way around!) – that’s the effect this tiny-framed, composed, controlled-yet-powerful voice has on you. Hard to digest the fact that she was a victim in the hands of human cannibals 25 years ago. By the end of a conversation with her, guess what? She had tears in her eyes and said “people don’t see this when I go around giving speeches — but I cry inside every single day of my life”. All I could give was a compassionate touch and a shoulder – at least roles reversed the right way! Her outward composure and courage is amazing. Behind that strength and smiling disposition, is a woman in pain and sadness making great strides against human trafficking through her amazing work at Prajwala.
    Does it take a hard-hitting film or melodrama to arouse our sensitivities and compassion in a civil society? Absolutely no holes poked at films or filmmakers who surface harsh realities dramatically and creatively – they are brilliant. If film and melodrama move and propel many to compassion, and action around being civil and contributing to a civil society , and if the human mind can take the time to IMAGINE in EVERY dysfunctional occurrence around them (not just human trafficking), a dramatized story, film, or a Shekhar ‘take’ on it, the world might just be a more compassionate and beautiful place to inhabit…even without the melodramatic props.
    But of course we all love films:-)

  6. Aah..what a film!
    I remember seeing it thrice with in a span of about a week on its release. I was a young student and didn’t even understand as to why I like it so much. At that time I was spell bound by the film and Nusrat sahab’s music in it. Whenever I travelled in the train through the lifeless bihad of Bhind & Muraina , it used to remind me of the film. Subsequently, after 10 years, I was posted at Gwalior and visited the bihad often, only to realise that neither the beautiful topography of the bihad nor the life of its people changed much. I also realised that what made the young naïve me like the film so much was the truth and the spirit with which it was portrayed on the screen. I am sure you will continue making films with the same spirit. All the best for Paani.

  7. great work.. i have seen this film 7 to 8 times, i think… brilliant film by a brilliant film maker..
    hats off to you sir ji.

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