DURING one of his early visits to India, Roy Moxham got interested in the lives of the country’s poor and oppressed, including Phoolan Devi. He decided to help her by sending her money, while she was in jail. Then he met her family members, her lawyer Kamini Jaiswal, and wrote letters to her till she was released on parole.
After her release, he met her, liked her, and maintained a steady contact with her through letters and personal visits. While in India, he went with her to her family home, her constituency Mirzapur, and attended many of her social and political meetings. Her home in New Delhi was like home to him too. He became friendly with all her relatives, stayed with them, and felt comfortable in their company. We see him sleeping on beds, on charpoys, even on the bare floor and with all kinds of people. During his visits, Moxham also goes to many other parts of India to collect materials for another book: The Great Indian Hedge.
Moxham gives advice to Phoolan, takes interest in her life, and encourages her in her numerous activities. Because of this, we get to know details about Kapur’s film on her, her autobiography, the ups and downs in her marriage, her relations with her family, her political career, her problems with her lawyers, who are busy keeping her out of jail, and even her health problems. Phoolan too takes interest in his life, his mother, and his girl friend. His closeness with her, and his many visits to India encourage him to think seriously about settling in India; he even looks for a suitable place in Chitrakut. He sends money to her for acquiring it, but her untimely murder puts an end to it. Moxham also provides details about her murder, the arrest of the suspects, and their trial, which is still on.
Outlaw not only provides interesting details about Phoolan Devi’s life after her release from jail but also an insightful account of a rare friendship between two individuals.
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