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Another kind of shooting for a bandit queen

By Sharat Pradhan, IANS

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From notorious ravines where her name spelt terror to the glitzy world of films, it has been quite a journey for former bandit queen Seema Parihar.

Having laid down arms four years ago, she is now set to step into the shoes of Phoolan Devi as another bandit queen whose story made it to celluloid - but with a difference.

Unlike Phoolan, who plunged into politics and let Seema Biswas play her in Shekhar Kapur's "Bandit Queen", Seema Parihar will play herself in "Wounded", a movie on her.

The initiative was taken by Bollywood director Krishna Mishra, who is confident that the film will be a hit.

"Many movies have been made on the lives of bandits but I do not think any filmmaker has dared to undertake a venture where the ex-bandit enacts her own life. So it is a great challenge for me," Mishra told IANS here.

The tall, dark and beautiful Seema Parihar is equally excited about the project.

"Films have always attracted me and whenever I would get an opportunity, I would see movies on VCR; but to act in a movie was a distant dream that Mishra has fulfilled for me."

She is as confident of doing well in films as she is of acquittal in each of the 29 criminal cases registered against her, including murder and kidnapping cases.

"I have been acquitted in 15 cases while I have been granted bail in the remaining 14," said Seema who was here with Mishra for a promotional exercise.

They were en route to the ravines in Etawah and Kanpur Dehat, where the unit proposes to shoot. The locales are places where Seema's name would spell terror not so long ago.

"She has faced police guns in the ravines. For a change she will now face the camera," quipped Mishra, who claims to have completed 60 percent of the shooting involving the early part of Seema's life played by child artist Aditi Pandey.

Mishra had first met Seema in Etawah jail after which he spent two years researching in the ravines before plunging into making the film.

Seema was just 13 when dacoit Lala Ram abducted her and made her live with him. After Lala Ram was gunned down by police, she took over the reins of the gang and became a notorious bandit herself.

It was the birth of her child that prompted her to quit the ravines where she had spent 18 long years, she said.

"My son, Sagar, was one-and-a-half years old and I knew I would end up making him another outlaw. So I decided to lay down arms on Dec 1, 2000," said the 31-year-old bandit-turned-heroine.

"I can now groom him to become a police officer."

While the film was initiated about two years ago, the project got suspended for a while as Seema declined to do some scenes requiring her to expose her body.

"Even after I decided to cut down some of those scenes, it took me more than a year to convince her that without a few of those scenes, her real life story could get weakened," said Misra.

"We proceeded only after she conceded my repeated requests," points out Misra, who wants the film to be ready by October.

Said Seema: "Women do not take to arms on their own; they are forced to do so. And once wounded by society, they retaliate like a tigress."

The film will also highlight the induction of several women into notorious dacoit gangs in the ravines of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.


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