In Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, Kangana Ranaut enthrals us as the iconic Rani Lakshmibai with her erect spine, her unblinking eyes and other-worldly acting prowess. This review is brought to you by AboutFlick’s Mr S.
Directed by: Krish Jagarlamudi, Kangana Ranaut.
Review: Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi is a brave attempt to convert the myth into a movie. And Kangana Ranaut is perfect to portray the fearless woman onscreen. The legend of the intrepid queen is served well by K Vijayendra Prasad’s myth-building screenplay, but the filmmakers don’t seem particularly interested in seeking out the woman beyond the legend.
Kangana Ranaut enthrals us as the iconic Rani Lakshmibai with her erect spine, her unblinking eyes and other-worldly acting prowess. She’s riding horses, wielding swords, leaping on elephants and making it all look plausible. When she looks into the camera and insists on dying for her country, you want to follow her into battle. Her valour is hypnotic. So are her exquisite costumes and jewellery – this is a queen who wears pearls into battle. And there aren’t many leading ladies who can pull that off without looking ridiculous.
Early on, we are told that cinematic liberties have been taken and the film doesn’t claim historical authenticity. But it does aspire to achieve mythical resonance. Much of the knowledge we gather during the movie – that Rani Lakshmibai spoke English fluently, loved reading, cared deeply for animals, and was a fearless warrior but a compassionate mother – is shown expressly for the purpose of highlighting her brilliance. Honestly speaking, the film seems a bit self-congratulating at times. After the incredible CGI that we have witnessed in films like Ra.One, Baahubali and 2.0, it seems like Bollywood has taken a step back with Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi .
The other characters get little to no screen time. The exceptions are Jisshu Sengupta, who had to sacrifice his voice for longer screen presence in the final cut of the movie. Ankita Lokhande and Suresh Oberoi play their part brilliantly, but then again judging from that amount of screen presence is near to impossible. A talent like Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub is underused in such a movie, where he deserved more screen time. Danny Denzongpa gets his fair share of time to prove his mastery over his craft. The question eventually arises in the end, isn’t Bollywood tired of hiring Edward Sonnenblick as the British General? And what’s with the British soldiers speaking in broken English?
“Iss bezzati ka jawaab main khoon se loonga.” – After being humiliated by the queen, a British officer declares so in broken Hindi.
When you come out of the theatres, the only thing you praise other than the legend of Lakshmibai is Kangana Ranaut. Her incredible performance is the only reason my rating is driven up by half a star.
Rating: My rating is 2.5/5
Who should watch this: If you like period dramas like Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat, Bajirao Mastani, you should definitely watch this. Also watch SRK’s Ashoka as it falls under this category.