Director: Kangana Ranaut & Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi
Rating: 8.5/10 (IMDb)
With a tale spanning from 1828 to 1858, the film, “Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi” gives you a fair picture about her life and times.
It tells us how Manikarnika born in Varanasi, marries Raja Gangadhar Rao Newalkar of Jhansi and is named Laxmibai in honour of the goddess Lakshmi and according to the traditions. The gloomy turn of events is perfunctorily handled and while the film captures the piece of history, the disclaimer at the very beginning of this period drama clearly lays the foundation for its faltering reproduction.
Kangana Ranaut who has helmed this film along with Krish Jagarlamudi plays the eponymous role with all sincerity. Her craft-fuelled intoxication is both naive and endearing. She breathes life into the feisty Manikarnika.
Prasoon Joshi’s dialogues have a few gems strewn sporadically. There are dialogues which will give you patriotic fervour and you are compelled to clap because it talks about empowering our girls.
Kangana has done a great job on her part. Her ability to internalise her character’s mind and manner is evident in every frame. Her fight scenes with British soldiers deserve to be lauded.
All the supporting actors Kulbushan Karbanda as the chief advisor of Jhansi, Jishu Sengupta as Maharajah Gangadhar Rao, Atul Kulkarni as Manikarna’s ally Tatya Tope, Suresh Oberoi as Peshwa Baji Rao II, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub as Raja Gangadhar Rao’s cousin Sadashiv, Danny Denzongpa as Ghaus Khan, Ankita Lokhande and Prajakta Mali as Jhalkari Bai and Kashi Bai citizens of Jhansi, have played their part brilliantly. On the acting front, every actor appears sincere.
The war scenes with astutely choreographed action sequences are imposing. Mounted on a magnificent scale of an epic with excellent production values, the elaborate production designs of the sets along with the costumes are impressive. They are painstakingly captured by Cinematographer Kiran Deohans’ lens.
The VFX and the live action sequences are seamlessly layered by Film Editor Rameshwar S. Bhagat. Aesthetically it’s a visual treat.
But there are a few scenes which should be treated with some more sincerity. The patchwork is bit shoddy. The ‘creative liberty’ taken by Kangana and Krish is understandable but the budget constraint didn’t let them explore it wholeheartedly. The feeble narrative could have been better.
Overall, this film is awe-inspiring due to its grandeur and Kangana Ranaut has once again proved that she is a versatile actress and can essay any character with finesse.