Weloquent Recommends: I, Phoolan Devi: The Autobiography of India's Bandit Queen

Here is remembering Phoolan Devi on her birthday (10 August 1963) with a book review of her autobiography - I, Phoolan Devi: The Autobiography of India’s Bandit Queen

By Phoolan Devi with Marie-Thérese Cuny and Paul Rambali



Boy! How to even begin! I am so glad I read this book. Phoolan Devi’s story of her relentless and indomitable spirit will be embedded in my being forever. Without a doubt, this book has changed my life and I will never be the same again.


Words abandon me as I describe this emotionally charged read. Phoolan Devi serves as a role model and a powerful source of inspiration and resilience to many. Her story is harrowing and is filled with incidents that’ll make one’s heart bleed. The depth of the abuse faced by her - emotional, sexual and psychological, is unfathomable. I was devastated by all that Phoolan experiences and found myself passionately admiring her strength and courage by which she emerged to become what she did. She turned her anger, humiliation and injustice into an unexplainable fortitude to overthrow the shackles of patriarchy and deliver justice to the downtrodden.

Photograph by Ashna Sanghi

Though based in the 20th century, this book still proves to be a contemporary read considering women are still dominated by all kinds of violence and atrocities. It sheds a staggering light on the rigid casteism and gender based crime prevailing in India, which the protagonist was subjected to.

Given that Phoolan was illiterate, this autobiography was recorded verbally from the horse’s mouth and does justice to narrating the story of her life with no unnecessary jargons. While it’s a MUST MUST read, irrespective of the reader’s gender, I must warn you that the words are raw and graphic. Expect to feel empowered and reminded of the latent strength women possess.


‘Bandit Queen’ or a true hero; you decide. All I can say is that one can’t help but be on her side after reading this gripping autobiography.


- Book reviewed by Ashna Sanghi (@Booksandbellinis)



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