Director- Kangana Ranaut, Krish
Producer- Zee Studios, Kamal Jain , Nishant Pitti
Cast- Kangana Ranaut, Atul Kulkarni, Jisshu Sengupta
Kangana Ranaut on the silver screen after such a long time is like a breath of fresh air. After delivering power packed performances in movies like Queen And Simran the actress is back with a bang on the screens with Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi. Since she is known for her bold nature and fearless attitude looks like nobody could have played the role better than her. Kangana Ranaut is the life of the movie.
BT Reporter Harnidh Kaur asked general public about the movie and the audience seems to be clearly impressed with Kangana’s performance. It is for the first time that the Queen actor is seen portraying a historical character. Everyone loved Kangana on the screen as an actor and her direction was also highly appreciated by the audience. Nobody has seen Jhansi Ki Rani in real but she must have been exactly how she was portrayed in the movie.
Manikarnika the film kicks off with viewers being introduced to the strong and independent Manikarnika (Kangana Rananut), who is well-versed in archery and sword-fighting. From taming a wild horse, to shooting a tiger from afar, or hop, skip and jumping to her elephant, it seems like she is the champion of stunts. There’s a constant flurry of expository dialogues on how fearless she is; enough to make your head spin.
Manikarnika is married off to Maharaja Gangadhar Rao Newalkar (Jisshu Sengupta) of Jhansi. He is more than impressed by her fearless behaviour. The Rajmata of the house isn’t, and strongly reprimands her. A woman’s place is in the palace and the kitchen, she tells Manikarnika, who pretty much rolls her eyes at her. This doesn’t stop Manikarnika (now renamed Rani Laxmibai after marriage) from roaming around town freely. Clouds loom over her seemingly-blissful life after her first child dies, and shortly later, her husband. The British officers are eager to capture Jhansi, and don’t accept her adopted son as the heir to the throne. Laxmibai’s fight against the British forms the rest of the story of Manikarnika.
In earlier films on freedom struggle, like Lagaan or even Mangal Pandey for that matter, filmmakers had still tried to make the British officers of the East India Company more nuanced, or to put it in fewer words — more believable. In Manikarnika, the evil and conniving British officers are straight out of an Ekta Kapoor serial. There’s no subtlety, they outright voice their plans of taking over Jhansi and you wonder if this is a potboiler from the 90s or taking place in 2019. All that’s needed is the signature evil ‘dhoom tananana’ in the background. Not just this, the makers have fallen for cliches, hook, line and sinker. The English officers seem to be wearing top hats in every scene. Worse, they sound as if they’re reading their dialogues off a teleprompter.
If you’re a Kangana Ranaut fan, Manikarnika is THE film for you. If you remember your history lessons, take Manikarnika with a generous pinch of salt, says our review.
‘Khoob ladi mardaani woh toh Jhansi waali Rani thi’ – call her Rani Laxmi Bai, Manikarnika or the warrior queen, she is inarguably the most popular woman freedom fighter India has produced till now and only one of the few who made it to our history books as a name to be reckoned with. So, actress Kangana Ranaut had a huge responsibility on her shoulders when she decided to bring alive the great warrior queen on the big screen. Kangana Ranaut’s Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi lives up to the hype.
It is no Sanjay Leela Bhansali war-drama, but the makers have ensured that the film got the scale it deserved. To begin with, the cinematography is breathtaking right from the word Go. Amitabh Bachchan’s voiceover brings back memories of another epic period piece Lagaan while Kangana Ranaut’s portrayal of one of the most iconic women in Indian history is certainly praise-worthy. Her nuanced grasp of the rebel warrior-queen will certainly win you over.
The best part about the film is its action choreography, especially in which women are featured. Be it Kangana herself or popular TV actress Ankita Lokhande, who made her Bollywood debut as Jhalkari Bai in the movie, the women actors as fighters are flawless with the sword and nothing like what we have seen in the past. Despite the fact that Lokhande doesn’t get much opportunity to showcase her mettle with her dramatic acting chops, she very much makes up for it with her skill with the blade. Even the extras (women) were phenomenal with the weapons.
Manikarnika, for which lead actress Kangana Ranaut takes directing credit ahead of Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi, blows history to smithereens and reduces the Rani of Jhansi, one of greatest warriors India has ever known, to a stunt queen, turning the film in the bargain into an outright travesty of cinema. The story of the queen’s short but glorious life deserves a movie all right but a much better one than this.
The fact that Manikarnika, in an opening disclaimer, lays no claims to historical accuracy cannot, however, absolve its makers of the blame for producing a film so astonishingly inept. This despite the fact that it loses no opportunity to whip up exuberance – beginning with an introductory voiceover by Amitabh Bachchan drawing our attention to the hinsaa(violence) and atyachar (tortune) that the British East India Company unleashed on this “pavitra” bhoomi.
Manikarnika is Kangana Ranaut all the way. Her belief in her ability to carry a historical saga of this scale on her shoulders is touching, even admirable. But her move into the director’s seat couldn’t obviously have helped the film’s cause. She is everywhere, even where she isn’t required. The result of the overreach is an overstretched, exaggerated drama that huffs and puffs its way through many a zone of utter redundancy.
The film seems as historically accurate as Mel Gibson’s Braveheart — which is to say it prizes the valorous myth, and takes ’creative liberties’ to tell its story. This is fine as long as the story is gripping. Directed by Ranaut and Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi, Manikarnika achieves the simplistic ambition of saluting the queen, but feels too long and a bit too cardboard. The budgetary constraints show. The patchwork is constant. However, it must be said that all our period epics look like filmed theatre productions (only in the Baahubali films do swords appear heavy) and there is a straightforward earnestness to Manikarnika, even when craft is lacking. It feels less wasteful than excessive period catastrophes, and I’d readily pick this over a baroque Sanjay Leela Bhansali carnival.
The overall impact is admittedly Amar Chitra Katha, and the storytelling is structured like a children’s film — albeit one with a fair bit of blood — which may not be a bad move, considering how quickly viewers get used to the simplistic syntax. There is much that is laughable, not least the British villains who attend court wearing bowlers and top hats and retire for wartime sleep in black satin pyjamas, but like the history books have always advertised about Jhansi, this is a one-woman show.
Times Of India
Manikarnika starts with Amitabh Bachchan’s booming baritone where he throws light on how the riches of India are fast being plundered by the British. Within seconds, we are led into the world of Manikarnika through Kangana Ranaut’s imposing screen presence.
Kangana captivates your attention in every frame and grows from strength to strength as the film progresses. This is clearly one of her best performances and the role itself lends ample scope for her to perform. From the tender, beautiful moments of a young girl, to the heavy-duty action scenes from the battlefield soaked in blood and sweat – Kangana effortlessly brings Manikarnika to life. The casualties, in turn, are the rest of the actors, who don’t get a chance to shine just as well. Be it veterans like Danny Denzongpa (as Ghaus Khan, also a prominent figure in history) and Kulbhushan Kharbanda or the debutantes like Ankita Lokhande, who plays the role of Jhalkaribai. All supporting actors including Atul Kulkarni, who plays Tatya Tope and Bengali actor Jisshu Sengupta have precious little to do. Needless to say, most of the British characters come off as caricatures, except actor Richard Keep, who plays Sir Hugh Rose.
The narrative of the film directed by Kangana Ranaut and Krish, stays on course showing the internal struggle within Jhansi’s royal family and unraveling important historical events during the 1800s. Some incidents like the Meerut Sepoy mutiny of 1857 are used as reference points, but the focus remains on Jhansi’s rebellion against the British.
The film employs a lot of visual effects and most are easily noticeable, which hampers the film’s realism. The scale on which the film is mounted gives it an air of grandeur, however, it lacks the required opulence and finesse.
Overall, Manikarnika is a well-made film that highlights Kangana’s prowess as an actor. For a first time filmmaker, she undoubtedly shows spark and potential as a storyteller. Short of an epic, this larger-than-life war drama has enough valour and spirit to keep you engaged in these pages of history.