A biopic of Rani Laxmi Bai, one of the earliest patriots of our freedom struggle ought to be a special thing.Hers is the inspiring story of a brave young queen who refuse seed control of her kingdom to The British following her husband’s death. Who fought alongside her troops on the battlefield and who in 1858 at the age of 29 lost her life in service of the land. That icon deserves a crackling film.
Manikarnika – The Queen Of Jhansi is first and foremost powered by the passion its leading lady. Kangana Ranaut is unwavering in her portrayal of Rani Laxmi Bai. There is hard to miss intensity in her eyes tenacity in her voice. She commands the screen with the fiery arresting presence, never letting your attention wander away from her.
In the battle scenes too galloping on a steed, charging in the rows of enemy soldiers, slashing and tearing into their flesh, practically leaping on to an elephant. Her valor is so convincing even the gravity defined stuff looks real.
Frankly the legend of the brave queen is served well by the director K. Vijendra Prasad’s screenplay but the filmmakers don’t seem specially interested in seeking out to woman beyond the legend.
Much of the information we gather during the course of the film that Rani Laxmi Bai spoke fluent english, had a love for reading, cared deeply for animals and was fearless in battle but a compassionate mother is released expressly with the purpose to highlight her brilliance. Given that the filmmakers declared upfront in a slate that they have taken liberties with facts, there is no way to know that how how much it is historically accurate.
Yet handful of scenes spring into life, when informed that her army pales as compared to enemy’s Rani Laxmi Bai delivers a rousing feminist monologue inspiring the women to join the men in battle, which is goose flesh moment.
Equally good is the song “Bharat” composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. The battle scenes are impressive and film is lacking neither in vision nor scale.
The problem is single track narrative and its unwillingness to explore anything or anyone other than the Rani Laxmi Bai worshiping angle. The film has very little room for other characters to shine and most of the dialogues are hackneyed. Rani Laxmi Bai breaking into a dance with locals is taking liberties to whole new level of taking cinematic liberties.There isn’t a quite moment and a subtle note in “Manikarnika – The Queen Of Jhansi”. It looks like an old fashioned patriotic saga told in broader of strokes. Kanagana Ranaut’s extra ordinary performance is the biggest strength of the film playing a women for whom they say ” Khoob Ladi Mardani Wo Toh Jhansi Wali Rani Thi”.
Definitely a one time watch and Bollywood Baba gives 3.5/5