After the stupendous success of Uri: The Surgical Strike, it has been proved that when true stories of brave people are portrayed well and in an entertaining manner at the box office, it cracks down on success. And with such a true and heroic saga this week, Kangana Ranaut starrer Manikarnika – The Queen of Jhansi is a saga of the indomitable valor of Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi. Will Manikarnika – The Queen of Jhansi manage to make a place in the hearts of the audience in the historical period drama film or will it fail in its endeavor, let’s review.
Manikarnika – The Queen of Jhansi is a saga of the indomitable bravery of Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi. Manikarnika [कंगना रनौत] lives in Bithoor and she is Peshwa [सुरेश ओबेरॉय] is his favorite and he pampers it with a lot of pampering. One day Dixit ji of Jhansi [कुलभूषण खरबंदा] Manikarnika fearlessly confronts a ferocious tiger. And influenced by him, he moved from Peshwa to Raja Gangadhar Rao of Jhansi. [जिशु सेनगुप्ता] He asks for Manikarnika’s hand. Dixit ji knows that the British want to annex Jhansi. So he chooses Manikarnika as the queen of Jhansi so that she can bravely take on the British when needed. Gangadhar and Manikarnika get married and get a new name, Lakshmibai. But most of all, Gangadhar’s brother Sadashiv [मोहम्मद जीशान अयूब] gets upset. So he joins the British people and wants to get the throne of Jhansi at any cost. After a few years of marriage, Lakshmibai gives birth to a son named Damodar. But Sadashiv kills Damodar by giving him poison by deceit. After this Gangadhar and Lakshmibai adopt a son and give him the name of Damodar. After a few days, Gangadhar also dies, then Lakshmibai takes the reins of Jhansi in her hands. But the British usurp the throne of Jhansi. But then Lakshmibai unites everyone to get her Jhansi back and openly challenges the British people. What happens after this will be known only after watching the rest of the film.
The story of KV Vijayendra Prasad is simple and tries to be as historically accurate as possible. KV Vijayendra Prasad’s screenplay is very effective and impressive. He tries to make sure that he sticks to the facts and portrays it concretely. The first half though is a bit weak due to slow action. The second half moves the story forward with many twists and turns. Prasoon Joshi’s dialogues are sharp, commendable and sharp and add to the impact of the film.
Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi and Kangana Ranaut’s direction is quite good and both more or less do justice to the scale and historical significance of the film. It is important to note that more than half of the film has been re-shot by Kangana. But barring a few places, it doesn’t seem like the film has been handled with different sensibilities by two different directors. Some of the scenes are exceptionally handled which is notable such as Manikarnika’s entry, her son’s demise, Intermission Point, Laxmibai’s dramatic entry into Gwalior Fort etc. Also there are action scenes. On the contrary, the direction falters at some places, which reduces the impact of the film. And when the audience has already seen Bahubali [2015, 2017], Bajirao Mastani Padmavat  And several films which had very impressive performances. Manikarnika – The Queen of Jhansi has flaws at many places.
Manikarnika – The Queen of Jhansi is a 2.28 hours long film. The first half is about an hour long. The makers have used the first half of the film more to set up the characters and till then there is little development in the story. This part of the film is interesting but also slow. The intermission point of the film is commendable and indicates that there is a lot to watch in the second half. As expected, the film reaches its peak from here. The action sequence is quite entertaining and the scene in which Lakshmibai single-handedly kills several British soldiers in front of Maa Kali. At this time the entire cinema hall reverberates with applause and whistles. On an emotional level, the film connects beautifully, so the audience is constantly connected with Laxmibai. The climax of the film could have been better but still it is heart touching. The factual details mentioned at the end also add to the impact of the film.
Kangana Ranaut delivers a superb performance and lives up to the challenging character. The character of Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi is very important in itself and Kangana does full justice to this character. It is very nice to see Kangana doing action scenes while she manages to beat in emotional scenes too. Jisshu Sengupta is seen only in a supporting role. Zeeshan Job is a bit comical but not unnatural. Suresh Oberoi is impressive. There is a sudden entry of Danny Denzongpa (Ghulam Gaus Khan) but performance wise he is dependable. His voice and personality adds a lot to his character. Ankita Lokhande (Jhalkari Bai) is excellent and leaves a tremendous impression in a limited amount of time. This is a great start for him! Atul Kulkarni (Tantya Tope) is good in his introduction scene, but he doesn’t have much to do afterwards. Mishti Chakraborty (Kashi) has a good screen presence but is barely visible. Kulbhushan Kharbanda is quite apt for his role. Tahir Mithaiwala (Sangram Singh) has a badass character, but surely gets ruined. Unnao Dwara (Mundar), Suparna Marwah (Rajmata), Nihar Pandya (Rao) and Peer Ali (Anil George) are fine. Edward Sonnenblick (Gordon) prevails when it comes to actors playing British officers. But Richard Keep (Hugh Rose) seems natural. Others are fine.
Gyan Shekhar VS and Kiran Dehan’s cinematography is superb and captures the various moods of the film well. The production design of Muralidhar J Sabat, Ratan Suryavanshi, Sukant Panigrahi, Sujit Subhash Sawant and Sriram Kannan Iyengar is grand and helps give the film a big screen feel. The action of Nick Powell, Todar Lazarov and Habib Riaz is not too bloody so makes them worth watching. In some places though it could have been better. Neeta Lulla’s costumes attract, especially the sarees worn by Kangana Ranaut and Ankita Lokhande. Prime Focus, Pran Studio, Drishyam VFX and Future Works have good VFX but some shots could have been better. Rameshwar Bhagat’s editing is commendable, especially in merging the works of two different directors.
Overall, Manikarnika – The Queen of Jhansi is a well-made historical film, largely emotionally and with the battle scenes that characterize it. Apart from this, the great performance of Kangana Ranaut is the biggest feature of this film. Since this film has come on the right occasion of Republic Day, the chances of its best performance at the box office are increased further.