13 April, 2021

Lady of Mettle

Lady of Mettle
It is unusual for a full-length feature film to be made on the life of someone alive and young. This happened to the late Phoolan Devi, who overcame very formidable hurdles, searing outrages committed on her and societal taboos, to get elected to the Lok Sabha not once, but twice. Mala Sen’s book, India’s Bandit Queen (HarperCollins), and Shekhar Kapoor’s film tell the extraordinary story detail by detail. About six years ago, I received a telephone call from her. I told her that she had obviously got a wrong connection. She said she knew whom she was calling and she had the right telephone connection. Was I, or was I not Natwar Singh? I said I was. She asked if she could meet me. This surprised me even more. Why did she want to see me? “Siasat ki baat karni hai (I have to talk about government).” But she would not say more on the telephone. She gave me her phone number and we agreed on a date.

On the morning of the appointed day, I telephoned her to make sure that she was keeping her appointment. A little later she arrived, in a...

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