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EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN: Indira Gandhi

Indira Gandhi (1917 -1984) receives garlands of flowers from well wishers after resuming premiership of India in January, 1980. (Agency reference - 3262357)
Courtesy of Keystone/Getty Images
Indira Gandhi (1917 -1984) receives garlands of flowers from well wishers after resuming premiership of India in January, 1980. (Agency reference - 3262357)

Friday, June 20, 2014 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

They seemed to have it all – glamour, power, wealth and adoration. Grace Kelly, Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn, Indira Gandhi, Madame Chiang Kai-shek... they were worshiped, loved and sometimes even feared by millions the world over. These were the pioneers who showed that a woman could be the equal of any man. But behind the public success, there was so often private heartache and personal tragedy. Featuring archive, interviews and dramatic re-enactment, this series reveals the price these extraordinary women paid for their achievements. Yet in the end, they overcame all adversities to emerge as triumphant, inspirational icons of the 20th century.

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Indira Gandhi was always destined for greatness. As the first female leader of the world’s largest democracy, she inherited a country plagued by poverty, famine and social injustice. Yet Indira triumphed over her critics, transformed India into a confident independent democracy, and rose to dominate India’s political stage for nearly 20 years.

To the poor, she was "Mother India." To others, Durga, the goddess of war. Yet Indira was a woman of extreme contradictions. She was the democrat who became a dictator. She was the wife and mother who placed politics and power before her family. And eventually, she paid the price for her very public flaws.

Loved and loathed in equal measure, Indira’s life was an epic saga of feuds, flaws and betrayal - a life in service of her country, abruptly ended by those she’d trusted to protect her. Yet the confidence she gave India on the world stage has endured – India has become one of the most prosperous developing countries in the world. Even if the opinion of Indira Gandhi's personal legacy remains divided.

Distributed by BBC Worldwide

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