Over the years, we have witnessed the rise & fall of multiple Indian dacoits, whose reigns of terror and dominance have made headlines across the nation. Their popularity in the minds of the people has led storytellers to bring us these notorious icons on-screen, be it the legendary Phoolan Devi, Sandalwood brigand Veerappan, the outlaw – Paan Singh Tomar, Sonchiriya – a bandit drama based on the Chambal Valley or now with the tale of Dadua Dakait of Chitrakoot.
Here are 5 must watch shows/films that we think depict the power and hold of dacoits in our country, and stories that beautifully translated on-screen:
Paan Singh Tomar
A biographical film directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia which stars the late Irrfan Khan – it based on an eponymous athlete who went onto become a soldier in the Indian Army but was soon forced to become a rebel against the system. The film traces his journey of going on to become a rebel by going into the business of extorting, killing and kidnapping wealthy businessmen of the area to accumulate money for his gang only to take revenge for his brother’s death. The critically acclaimed film also sees Mahi Gill, Vipin Sharma, Imran Hasnee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui amongst others.
Beehad Ka Baghi
This latest release on MX Player is inspired by true events. Set in 1998, this is Shiv Kumar’s story – of his rebellion and subsequent reign of terror as a dreaded dacoit in Chitrakoot, Bundelkhand. Circumstances saw him take to a life of crime as a bandit – but with a difference. A modern day Robinhood or better known as Dadda, he was hailed as a messiah for the poor. His grit and determination helped him build a powerful ecosystem wherein the police, administration and even the most powerful politicians become subservient to him. This series is directed by Ritam Srivastav and meticulously tells us a tale of an era that we’ve only heard of.
One of the biggest hits the country has seen, this biographical film based on the life of Phoolan Devi was directed by Shekhar Kapur. The film takes us through the life of Phoolan Devi, a woman from a lower caste, and her hardships of sexual abuse and discrimination in society and how she, under the leadership of Vikram Mallah learns and eventually forms a gang of her own. The film depicts the power of a woman and also showcases the lengths people can go to when pushed far enough, which seems like the story of most bandits.
This film is directed by Ram Gopal Verma and was released in the year 2016. The film traces the life of a bandit, Veerappan and the events leading to Operation Cocoon, a mission that was created to capture & kill him. A notorious poacher, a sandalwood smuggler and Indian’s biggest dacoit, Veerappan has constantly defied the government, powerful & military forces – becoming one of the most dreaded names in the country. Over years of looking out for Veerappan, finally an STF team disguised to negotiate an arms deal with Veerappan find him and kill him. The film highlights his lifestyle and how the team finds this incredible dakku.
Directed by Abhsihek Chaubey, ‘Sonchirya’ is a tale of dacoits/dakkus alongside the banks of Chambal Valley. The film starred the late Sushant Singh Rajput, Bhumi Pednekar, Manoj Bajpayee, Ranvir Shorey and Ashutosh Rana. Inspired by true events, this film is set during the time when Indira Gandhi declared a state of ‘Emergency’ in the country. A story that traces the lives of a bunch of fugitives who are on a constant run from the increasingly difficult social and political environment and in desperate hope for survival. While the roles of other characters are fictional, Manoj Bajpayee plays the role of Daku Maan Singh, based on real-life dacoit ‘Maan Singh’.