Episode 11: Rebel of the Ravines: Phoolan Devi


How much abuse can a woman endure before she breaks? That seemed to be the unconscious and horrible goal driving the wealthy men who abused Phoolan Devi time and again, and sent her to prison, and tried to deny her water, and tried to shame her into submission. It was as though they were mad scientists, experimenting on the human spirit. But their experiment failed when Phoolan, still a teenager, got swept up into the wild world of Northern Indian bandits, called dacoits, where she learned the fine and vicious art of vengeance. Come along for a surreal story of abuse and revenge, one that starts in poverty and ends in power.


I, Phoolan Devi, by Phoolan Devi

India’s Bandit Queen, by Mala Sen

“India’s Bandit Queen,” November 1996 issue of The Atlantic

“The Great Indian Rape-Trick,” Arundhati Roy

“Phoolan Devi Shot Dead,” The Times of India, July 25, 2001

“Killer of Phoolan Devi, India's 'Bandit Queen', given life sentence,” The Guardian, August 14, 2014

Phoolan’s obituary, The Telegraph, July 26, 2001

Post-prison interview with Poolan (excerpted at end of episode)


 “Guilty” by Ruth Etting, via archive.org

“Raag” by Vinod Prasanna × Okey Szoke × Pompey (the flute player, Vinod Prasanna, is from Phoolan’s home state!), via freemusicarchive.org

Choti Si Umar (title song from Bandit Queen), sung by Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Tori Telfer