Director: Kangana Ranaut, Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi
"Manikarnika: The queen of Jhansi" | Kangana reigns as Manikarnika
Khoob Ladi Mardaani Woh Toh Jhansi Waali Rani Thi – this is how prominent Hindi poet Subhadra Kumari Chauhan once described India’s own ‘Jezebel’ Rani Laxmibai in her famed poem ‘Jhansi Ki Rani’.
The famed monarch of Jhansi and an embodiment of courage, Laxmibai was one of the front-ranking leaders of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and a symbol of resistance to British rule.
Kangana Ranaut’s co-directorial debut with Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi Manikarnika: The queen of Jhansi is the biopic based on this legend of Jhansi. The magnum opus is narrated by millennium star Amitabh Bachchan.
First half of the biopic captures Manu’s journey from being a solicit book lover, warrior to that of a Rani Laxmibai.
Manu was the daughter of Moropant Shiv Tambe, who was the cousin of then Peshwa Bajirao II. Born in Varanasi, she always had a keen interest in horse riding and archery. A minister of Jhansi saw her once while she was on a tiger hunt. Then and there he decided to get her married to Gangadhar Rao, king of Jhansi. He came to Nana Saheb with the proposal which was accepted wholeheartedly.
Post the marriage, Raja Gangadhar Rao Newalker changed her name to ‘Laxmi’. After the death of her child, queen and king of Jhansi decided to adopt a boy Anand Rao as it was mandatory to have an heir to the throne during the British Rule. After the interval, the entire scenes shift to queen’s courageous fight to Britishers.
Kangana Ranaut as the queen is outstanding. I don’t think there is any other actress in Bollywood who could have pulled off the role of Laxmibai the way Ranaut has. She is outstanding in every area, either its dialogue delivery or body language.
Besides, her energy in the action scenes is worth appreciating. Kangana has not jut played the role, she has literally lived it.
The best part about the film is its action choreography, especially in which women are featured.
Popular TV actress Ankita Lokhande, who made her Bollywood debut as Jhalkari Bai in the movie, and Jisshu Sengupta, who played Maharaja Gangadhar Rao and Rani Laxmi Bai’s husband, are powerful in their roles. Danny Denzongpa as Ghulam Muhammad Ghouse Khan has the same sturdy performance as he played in his past movies.
Hollywood actor Richard Keep played the role of General Hugh Rose, the ruthless general who led the British Army against the queen. I felt, the actor could have done more. He somehow managed the role.
The cinematography of the movie is beautifully done. I am in all praise to VFX scenes used in the movie. I can see that Bollywood is gradually improving in this area of film making too.
The film is an extremely sensitive, emotionally and historically rich period drama.
Kangana has done a brilliant job as an actor as well as director. The movie should be on the watchlist of those who enjoy period dramas like Bajiro Mastani, Lagan and Padmavat.
Overall, I felt that Manikarnika is Kangana and Kangana is Manikarnika.