“Indians need to make Indian stories,” Devika Bhise tells MAKERS. More than that, though, the star and co-writer of The Warrior Queen of Jhansi, which premiered at the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival and is set to be released on Nov. 15, hopes to change the global perception of India through storytelling. “For whatever reason in Hollywood now, we really only see the poverty in India, the rape. It's not shown often in a very positive light. And most people think of India now and they're like there are slums and it's dirty. But actually there's a grand, rich history and culture there and I think just being able to show that to Western audiences was really important.”
In The Warrior Queen of Jhansi, Bhise portrays Rani Lakshmibai, known as India’s Joan of Arc, who lead a female cavalry against the East India Company in 1857. Along with her mother, Swati Bhise, who directed and has the other writing credit on the film, the pair hope to expose a global audience to the largely forgotten historical figure’s heroics and pay homage to their heritage.
The past surely is important, but in retelling it Devika hopes to impact current and future generations. “I think because she's a real person, she existed, women hopefully can take away that at any point in time, there are these women warriors who took things into their own hands and really made a difference, and, therefore, you can, too. I think every woman is a warrior in that way and I hope that men and women can take that out of the film.”