One-woman army rises

Nestled on the edge of the Chitrakoot border in Uttar Pradesh, an extraordinary tale of courage unfolded that would inspire countless others. It’s the story of Ramlali, an uneducated woman whose daring confrontation with the notorious dacoit Dadua not only challenged his rule of terror but also ignited a movement of empowerment among the rural womenfolk. With such a rousing narrative, celebrated director Omung Kumar has now set his sights on bringing Ramlali’s life story to the cinematic forefront, following his previous noteworthy directorials such as Mary Kom, Sarbjit, and PM Narendra Modi.

Staying true to his penchant for portraying strong-willed characters, Omung Kumar has acquired the rights to narrate Ramlali’s audacious stand through the silver screen. Tales of Dadua’s feared existence in the ravines of Uttar Pradesh abound, but it was in 2001 when his infamy met its match. Dadua had kidnapped a bank manager’s son, but as fate would have it, the young boy escaped and found sanctuary in Ramlali’s modest home in Harijanpur. Her defiance in the face of Dadua’s gang, who demanded the boy’s return, marked the beginning of her legendary status. The village of Patha and beyond would come to know of her valor, a turning point that will be prominently featured in Omung Kumar’s upcoming biopic, appropriately titled “Ramlali.”

This film is poised to trace Ramlali’s evolution from a local heroine to a regional icon, earning appellations such as ‘Phoolan of Chitrakoot’ and ‘Patha ki sherni’. In a symbolic recognition of her gallantry, District Magistrate Jagannath Singh awarded her a licensed rifle in 2001. The acknowledgment of her positive influence on society continued in 2002, as then-Governor Vishnukant Shastri honored her at Raj Bhavan. The subsequent years saw Ramlali assume the role of a mentor, teaching self-defense to the girls and women in her village, transforming them into confident guardians of their own safety. Her empowering lessons led to a notable reduction in the dacoits’ hostility towards her community.

The crafting of the screenplay for “Ramlali” is presently in the hands of Yusuf Khan, and whispers from within the industry suggest a wishlist of accomplished actresses for the lead role. Bhumi Pednekar, Kriti Sanon, and Nushrratt Bharuccha have been identified as potential candidates to portray the indomitable Ramlali. Meanwhile, Randeep Hooda is the frontrunner to embody the antagonist, Dadua. The director, who has been preoccupied with design work for high-profile celebrations, is now set to finalize the script and proceed with casting.

The biopic serves as an immortalization of a woman’s steadfastness in an era when gender and education often dictated one’s societal role. Ramlali’s story challenges these norms, delineating a journey of a woman who, with no formal learning, rose as a beacon for justice and community resilience. As the project gears to commence production by the end of the year, audiences can anticipate a cinematic experience that celebrates the potency of human spirit and the enduring capacity of one individual to effectuate change. “Ramlali” is not only a chronicle of personal triumph and rebellion but also an inspiring look at how empowering others can forge a legacy that deters even the most formidable of oppressors.

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