Kangana Ranaut’s brilliance blazes the screen with unbelievable fire and ferocity!
The bravery of Rani Laxmibai is a story known to every Indian and the image of this young warrior queen in all her regal finery mounted on a horseback with a sword in her hand and her child tied to her back is an image etched deeply in our minds. The film does full justice to her bravery and is a fitting tribute to this extraordinary queen who played an important part in our 1857 mutiny against the British.
My tryst with ‘Jhansi Ki Rani’ began many years back when as a young 7-year old I had the rare opportunity to recite some verses of Subhadra Kumari Chauhan’s memorable poem titled JHANSI KI RANI on stage as part of my school program. And the line which had stayed with me since then was– ‘Khoob ladi mardani woh toh Jhansi waali rani thi’ (she fought like a true man among the warriors)! I could never forget the meaning of the forceful words of the poem…
…And yesterday in the cinema hall when I got to witness the life and times of this warrior-queen in the film Manikarnika, my heart was once gain filled with a patriotic fervour difficult to put down in words. The film is very well written, superbly directed, lavishly mounted and the stunning visuals of the sets and battle scenes transport us back in time to the 1800s to witness the heroic battles fought by this young queen who gave up her life dreaming of an India free from the British.
She was just 29 years old when she was killed. The film encapsulates the brief but memorable life of Rani Laxmibai. Born as Manikarnika and referred to lovingly as Manu by her father and her friends, she gets the name Laxmi after marriage when as per custom the king gets to choose a new name for his queen. Her life had lots of unexpected twists which she or anyone else could have never dreamt of but she faces every adversity with great resoluteness and dignity.
There could not have been a better choice than Kangana Ranaut to bring to life the spirit of one of our bravest warriors in history- Rani Laxmibai. Her transformation from an innocent, playful and feisty daughter well-versed in all forms of warfare to the loving wife of Maharaja Gangadhar Rao and finally to the widowed yet resolute queen going all out to defend ‘her’ Jhansi, Kangana gets everything right. She truly imbibes the spirit of this brave-heart queen and completely invests herself in the character as she lights up the screen with a myriad emotions. The film is worth a watch just for her earnestness, spirited determination and flawless performance!
The detailing in each and every scene is laudable and costumes by Neeta Lulla are magnificent! The story and screenplay by Bahubali writer Vijayendra Prasad keep us engaged throughout. Dialogues by Prasoon Joshi are spot on and there are many lines that are simply outstanding! The action scenes are just too good. Such authenticity and detailing in battle scenes has not been witnessed in a long time.
In a movie like Bajirao Mastani, Ranveer hardly had any fighting scenes but does a victory song/dance number nevertheless, but here the thrilling battle scenes get enough screen time for us to feel the emotions. It was like actually being on the battlefield with the characters. Kangana goes all out and has performed the fight sequences with a zeal, flourish and fluidity that make it look very convincing. The skillful choreography of the fight sequences leave us speechless and make for compelling viewing.
So move over Akshay, Ranveer, Ajay and Salman for here comes the true action star! Just watch the scene where she fights three of the court’s men with amazing deftness, does somersaults, jumps over horses and finally lands atop an elephant! Prabhas of Bahubali definitely has competition!
The supporting cast also do their job very well. Suresh Oberoi as Peswa Baji Rao II, Atul Kulkarni as Tatya Tope, Danny Denzongpa as Ghouse Baba, Jishu Sengupta as Maharaja Gangadhar Rao, Mohamed Zeeshan Ayub as his brother Sadashiv Rao, Kulbhushan Kharbanda as Jhansi’s minister Dixit are all very good. A special mention for Anita Lokhande who makes her debut in the film and her brief role as Jhalkari bai is memorable. The actors playing the British looked their part.
The introductory narration in superstar Amitabh Bachchan’s magical baritone is an added bonus! Music by Shankar Ehsan Loy is also very good and camerawork and VFX also need special mention. Kangana looks stunning in all the scenes and the camera captures her beauty and personality in every frame. The film by the way has two directors and Kangana herself is one of them. It is her name which appears first in the end credits as director and is followed by the name of the second person Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi.
So take a bow Kangana both as an actor as well as a director!!! The unit held a special screening for President Ram Nath Kovind before the release of the film and the President felicitated the entire team.
This film deals with patriotism and has the right mix of emotion and action scenes. Yet it does not seem to be getting the kind of promotion which URI-The Surgical Strike got both from the government and the industry people! Not many tweets and social media promotions by any of the ‘so-called’ big stars and directors of the industry! Is it because much like the Queen of Jhansi, Kangana too refuses to bow down to the industry bigwigs and instead prefers to fight her own battle?
Towards the end of the film, they show us a line from Sir Hugh Rose’s memoirs where he wrote that of all the people whom the British fought against, he considered the Queen of Jhansi to be the bravest and the only true man among the warriors!
Whether the film will make box-office history or not only time will tell but the film has been painstakingly crafted and is a fitting tribute to the contribution of women in our freedom struggle. At 2 hours and 38 minutes the film is long and a few cinematic liberties have been taken but the glimpse into this unique chapter of our history is definitely worth watching!
Here is a lovely song from the film titled ‘Vijayi Bhava’: