The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Real and reel Phoolan II

Sept. 17: She is called Phoolan No. 2. She is said to have killed more than 70 people. She is said to be as beautiful as she is savage. She is behind bars, but may just step out to act in a Hindi film — as herself.

“Queen of the Chambals” Seema Parihar, now an inmate of Etawah Jail, has agreed to act in a film on herself. The film, Seema Bani Dacoit, is being directed by Yash Chauhan, a Mumbai-based director. A Nagpur-based Shiv Sena leader has reportedly agreed to finance the movie.

The director had signed Seema at the Kanpur district court premises last week when she had come to attend a hearing. “She agreed to the film being made on the condition that she will herself play the lead role,” her lawyer Nandlal Jaiswal said.

Chauhan, who has a number of small-budget “dacoit films” like Putlibai (1998) to his credit, has written to the Uttar Pradesh government for cooperation. The director said he was confident he would get permission from the authorities to shoot with Seema and added that he planned to shoot “most of the film in Chambal over a month or so”. His ideal, he revealed, was the film Bandit Queen, based on Phoolan Devi’s life.

Seema, whose life is very similar to that of Phoolan, had surrendered last year to police in Auraiyya after a 15-year stint in the ravines.

She is facing trial in over a dozen cases registered at different police stations in Etawah, Auraiyya, and Jalaun.

Like Phoolan, she was born to a poor family from the “low” barber caste and was raped by upper-caste men. She, however, married a Rajput, from whom she got her surname.

Seema’s career in the Chambals took off when she became the companion of Lalaram, one of Phoolan’s arch rivals, who was killed in an encounter with the police a few years ago.

Again, like her more well-known predecessor, Seema had a fling with politics. She was the Sena candidate from Etawah in the recent Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

“I entered politics to enlighten the people of this country why often good men and women become dacoits,” Seema had said at the time of the elections.

She said she wanted to “expose the nexus between some Samajwadi Party leaders and criminals” and alleged that several local activists of the party were helping dacoit gangs in the ravines and “getting a commission out of the ransom amount” in kidnapping cases.

“Now, she is joining the film world to educate a wider audience,” her lawyer said.

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