'The Warrior Queen of Jhansi'

Photo by Shannon Finney

A crowd of about 250 of Washington’s social set and cinephiles gathered at the gracefully sweeping US Institute of Peace for the DC premiere of The Warrior Queen of Jhansi. The film tells the true story of the legendary Rani of Jhansi, a feminist icon in India and a fearless freedom fighter. In 1857 India this 24-year old General led her people into battle against the British Empire earning the reputation as the Joan of Arc of the East. Her insurrection shifted the balance of power in the region and set in motion the demise of the notorious British East India Company and the beginning of the British Raj under Queen Victoria.

Following the screening, the mother-daughter duo of Swati and Devika Bhise – director and lead actress of the film respectively (in addition to sharing the screen-writing credit), sat down with author and journalist Jay Newton-Small for a question and answer session. In hearing them discuss their motivation in making the film, it became clear what a remarkable character the Rani was, as educated as she was fearless. “In 1857, she stood up against men in a male-dominated world and was respected,” said Swati. “She must’ve known it was suicidal to take on the whole British army and the Empire, but she did what she had to do for her people, her beliefs and her principles. She lit the torch that gave India its freedom and democracy 90 years later.”

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