After much controversy and hiccups, Manikarnika -The Queen Of Jhansi finally sees the light of the day in the theater and after watching the war drama, the only thing which came to mind - SUPERB !!!
Manikarnika - The Queen Of Jhansi is a story of popular freedom fighter, Rani Laxmibai, who sacrificed her life fighting the British soldiers in the pre-independence era.
Directed by Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi and partly by Kangana Ranaut, Manikarnika - The Queen Of Jhansi will grab your attention right from the beginning as the hefty voice of Amitabh Bachchan breaks through the clouds and tells the story of how East India Company divided and conquered India. The entry scene of Kangana Ranaut is sparking while the subsequent scenes of her marriage to the Maharaja Of Jhansi (Jishu Sengupta) and her interaction with British soldiers are solid. First half does gets interrupted by frequent songs which could be trimmed (especially when Kangana Ranaut bursts into a dance at the village). However, the scene before the interval where she transforms herself and vows to protect Jhansi from the clutches of British is just mind-blowing. This might be the first time when I heard audience whistling and clapping for an actress.
The second half starts with Rani Laxmibai evacuating the fortress as the British officers threaten but she comes back with a bang after getting adequate support from local people. She finally recruits the women from her village and trains them to fight the British officers. The war scene between the British army and Jhansi's soldiers is well-executed especially the scene where Rani Laxmibai drags the officer into her fortress. While the screenplay drags little bit but the climax scene is beautifully shot especially the scenes involving Kangana sword-fighting. I felt that ending scene where Rani Laxmibai died in the battle ground could have more impact and intensity which was missing. Also, the CGI was poor especially when Rani Laxmibai decides to engulf herself into the flames rather than surrendering to the British army. Also, except for "Bharat" (mind-blowing lyrics by Prasoon Joshi and tune given by Shankar Eshaan Loy) none of songs stand out in this epic drama. Few factors makes a negative impact to the film - the length of the film (2 hours 28 minutes),loose editing and unnecessary inclusion of songs. Manikarnika is well-written by KV Vijayendra Prasad (Bahubali and Bajrangi Bhaijaan)
Nevertheless, the art direction is eye-catching. Each and every frame is beautiful depicted on the silver screen while cinematography captures the exotic locales of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The production design is eye-catching and will take you back to the forgotten history. The costume-design is mesmerizing while the background score was very good. The sets looked grandeur and magnificent and did have shades of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Bajirao Mastani. The action sequence is brilliantly choreographed by the Hollywood choreographer Nick Powell who was the stunt coordinator in films like X-Men: The Last Stand and The Last Samurai.
I could not imagine anyone apart from Kangana Ranaut playing the powerful character of Rani Laxmibai. What will catch your attention is the impeccable transformation from Manikarnika into Rani Laxmibai as the reels moves forward. Kangana Ranaut looked perfect as a Rani Laxmibai as she makes her grand entry and spits venom as she fights the British soldiers. The fiery looks in her eyes and the commanding voice will make you fall in love with her wonderful performance. Ankita Lokhande makes a good debut. Danny Denzongpa as Ghouse Baba is superb. Jishu and Mishti Mukherjee does well in small role. However, Atul Kulkarni and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub does not get much scope.
Manikarnika The Queen Of Jhansi is definitely a good watch if you are a fan of Indian History and Kangana Ranaut. It should be lauded for bold direction, exemplary CGI and commendable performances. Good 3.5/5
When Dixt, a minister in Jhansi princely state, sees Varanasi-born Manikarnika, he proposes that she marry Gangadar Rao, prince of Jhansi. Sadashiv Rao plots with British officers to conquer Jhansi as he is promised a stake in it after conquering Jhansi. After the birth of Lakshmi and Gangadar Rao's son Sadashiv Rao sees his place in fear and poisons the holy water during the child's naming ceremony; he passes away and leaves Gangadar Rao on his deathbed. Gangadar Rao decides to adopt a son and Sadashiv Rao feels guilty of not adopting his son instead a toddler who comes running to Lakshmi Bai after Gangadar Rao's death. The East India Company decides to conquer Jhansi as it has no male ruler, but Lakshmi Bai decides to take the throne herself and fight for Jhansi.
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