Hyper-nationalism has been a trend in Bollywood in the last few years and there were some tacky and propaganda driven movies that almost made people skeptical about the cinematic qualities of those films which had this flair of nationalism in its promos and story. Well, when compared to those movies, I would say Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi directed by Krish and Kangana Ranaut is a much better film. It has its share of shortcomings in the form of broad stroke narratives and visual effects, but with a passionate Kangana Ranaut at the center of the action, I don’t think anyone will walk out of the theater with a feeling of let down.
So the movie is basically about Manikarnika, a Varanasi born Brahmin girl who went on to become the queen of Jhansi who had a major role in the 1857 freedom movement. The film shows us the major phases of Manikarnika’s life where she became Rani Lakshmibai and took the responsibility of her land and fought against the British with the help of her people. The eventful life of this young queen is the story of Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi.
Let me admit the fact that I am not a huge fan of Baahubali. It was a movie that according to me had a lot to do with the visual spectacle angle and that is something highly subjective. Written by Vijayendra Prasad, Manikarnika doesn’t have the luxury of the budget which Baahubali had. And for my taste that lack of budget is the good thing about this movie. Krish and Kangana Ranaut has managed to create a story that looks deeply into the person rather than the whole visual grandeur aspect of it. There are no lavish extravagant wide shots and they play largely with the self-esteem part of this character. Even in that excruciatingly long war segments of the second half, there are visuals that look so pulsating even with that slight cheesy tone. And for someone like me who has only a one-liner knowledge about a person like the Queen of Jhansi, the movie works fine as a package of fact and fiction.
Kangana Ranaut has this impeccable grace and confidence while portraying the role of the titular character. Manikarnika aka Rani Lakshmibai is an embodiment of self-esteem and the dialogues are so poetic at many areas that it could have been a movie that sounded so cheesy. But she manages to assert energy and rebelliousness into those words. The vulnerabilities of being a wife and a mother do get depicted in her performance. A major drawback I felt in the movie was the lack of significance in terms of screen time for other characters in this movie. Jisshu Sengupta as Gangadhar Rao, Danny Denzongpa as Ghaus Khan, Ankita Lokhande as Jhalkaribai, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub as Sadashiv etc. are definitely important characters, but the emphasis on them is so less that you will feel the need of more from those characters.
The approach of Krish and Kangana to make it an emotional story about a rebel mind makes this movie an interesting watch. The visual effects quality is definitely not on the brighter side here and they have smartly shifted the movie away from a grading based on that. The sword fights and some of the formations we see in songs like Vijayi Bhava etc. give the movie a boost. Vijayendra Prasad’s script has managed to create moments like the interval block which has a strong outlook altogether. And through some dialogues and scenes, there is a deliberate and smart attempt to show how Rani Lakshmibai demolished patriarchal norms. The nationalistic political pleasing is there for sure, but they have managed to camouflage it smartly. The songs are pretty effective. Prasoon Joshi has done a good job in penning the lyrics and writing powerful and dramatic dialogues. Visuals also made an impact and the edits managed to keep the intrigue.
Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi is not a technically rich movie. But it seems like a movie with a good heart. A confident Kangana Ranaut manages to make us feel for her character and within the limitations, they managed to create the impact of this whole movement which we all have studied in our history lessons.
A confident Kangana Ranaut manages to make us feel for her character and within the limitations, they managed to create the impact of this whole movement which we all have studied in our history less