Modern Bandit Queens Inspired by Aishwarya Rai

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A filmi story took on a real life turn when 4 women, inspired by an Aishwarya Rai character, took to stealing and became bandit queens. They would spend their days as perfect wives and mothers — cooking cleaning and playing with their children – but when the sun had set, they would come out to play by themselves. The leader was Geeta and they were a gang of women thieves, inspired, they say, by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s role as Sunehri in Dhoom 2.

The women who included Geeta (30), Kela (32), Sheela (20) and Ompati (40) raided warehouses and in particular stole batteries which they could pass on easily for cash. “They had a bias for battery cells,” says Inspector Raj Kumar of the Delhi police, “They would pick up boxes that contained at least 50 batteries each and sell them to a junk dealer. On an average, the gang made Rs 1 lakh a day – that is, Rs 20,000 each. We are yet to find out how many robberies they have committed.”

But the story is not as straightforward as it looks at first sight. Coming from the Sansi tribe, on the fringe of society with little opportunity for jobs or access to social care, the women were trapped inside miserable lives with husbands who were alcoholics or drug addicts. Faced with the choice of steadily decaying lives or giving themselves a chance for escape, they understandably chose the latter. “To survive and feed their families, they first worked as ragpickers and also committed some petty thefts,” explains DCP Aggarwal, “Then Geeta met a woman who motivated them to commit bigger crimes and gave them the example of Dhoom-2 in which a woman thief takes advantage of her gender.”

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