Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi movie review: ‘Thugged’ Again

Although filmed lavishly, the rich story laden with potential ends up as a disappointing watch. For a strong subject that’s told weakly, Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi gets a 2.5* rating.

Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi movie review: ‘Thugged’ Again Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi movie review: ‘Thugged’ Again Source : press

If visual sweep and platitudes about patriotism and feminism were enough to power a film, Manikarnika would've been a blockbuster. But the grandeur weakens into grandiloquence since top-notch writing and direction were the requirements of such an expensive film. 

Manikarnika, the Brahmin girl brought up like a fearless Kshatriya, is introduced with a bow and arrow aimed at a lion. The lion meets lioness Manikarnika but what was refreshing was the touch of kindness where she doesn't endorse the wanton killing of any animal.

There are sword fights and wild horses being tamed to further establish Manikarnika's skills. All of which is standard procedure when sketching the personality of a feisty warrior. 

What is different is her marriage to Maharaj Gangadhar Rao of Jhansi which was uniquely progressive for its times with the husband gracious about her courage, even dependent on it. Despite a typical mother-in-law who wants to tame her and keep her in the kitchen, Gangadhar's relationship with wife Rani Laxmibai as she has been rechristened, has tenderness, respect, and admiration. And you do feel her loss as a woman when the ruthless British and palace intrigue snatch away her happiness.

Rani Laxmibai's decision not to wear widow's weeds and exhorting other women to fight for Jhansi are laudable.And infectious is the song, ‘Main rahoon ya na rahoon Bharat ye rehna chahiye'. 

But with KrishJagarlamudi and Kangana Ranaut sharing the director's chair, the narration of several link scenes is patchy and not gripping. 

There are battles galore with the British who resemble caricatures, making you feel like you've strayed back into a screening of Thugs Of Hindostan. 

‘Widows go to Kashi but this one goes and sits on the throne,' says an exasperated General Rose Hugh who's at his wits end with the Rani of Jhansi who won't bow down. There's a sudden reference to the cartridges used during the Sepoy Mutiny and such a prolonged stand-off between Laxmibai and the British that the biggest of them all is your battle with boredom.

Unfortunately, Kangana Ranaut does not come up with a riveting performance.A competent direction was needed to rein in her exaggerated facial expressions which come off like grandstanding in a stage play. And no other actor except Jissu Sen as her husband has enough to do to make an impact.

Verdict: Although filmed lavishly, the rich story laden with potential ends up as a disappointing watch.

For a strong subject that's told weakly, Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi gets a 2.5* rating.



Disclaimer: We are proud that LehrenTV reviewer Bharathi S Pradhan has been appointed an advisory member of the prestigious CBFC. However, her reviews reflect her personal appraisal of a film and do not in any way speak on behalf of the Censor Board.



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