The film depicts the life of Rani Lakshmi Bai (portrayed by Kangana Ranaut) whose valour and resilience against the British during India’s First War of Independence made a mark which has not only impressed the historians but the entire world and will continue to do so till eternity.
Positive Points: –
- Kangana Ranaut’s stellar performance which is indeed the soul of the film.
- Manikarnika has enough substance to induce a sense of nationalism and pride in the hearts of the audience and it never fails in that.
Negative Points: –
- Poor direction and a less than amusing screenplay which has no other strengths apart from its commendable one-liners.
- Shoddy VFX which at times make the film look like some B-film which it’s clearly not.
- Terrible acting from all the actors portraying British.
- Could we have made a more historically authentic and subtle period drama on Lakshmi Bai instead of a melodramatic flick marred by insane stunts? Hell yes, we could have!
The General Aspects: –
It’s understandable that telling the tale of Rani Lakshmi Bai in a matter of a couple of hours is a difficult task. The tales of her humaneness and bravery are numerous and sidelining any one of them might seem like missing an entire saga. Given that we got to commend the makers for just attempting a movie like this, but that doesn’t make the movie wholly better. If there’s any strength in the film’s making it’s probably Prasoon Joshi’s dialogues which are highly effective despite being mainstream in nature. However, the distribution of powerful lines among the characters is quite poor for the titular character gets all of them while everyone else just yearns for something meaty in their bag. The same extends for K. V. Vijayendra Prasad’s screenplay which is bad in so many fronts, be it the character development, their interactions, the basic narrative, and the like. The greatest flaw of Manikarnika is, however, the direction of Krish and Ranaut. It’s their lack of insight that brings out the glaring flaws out into the open and that’s probably because they focused on making the film a commercial entertainer than a genuine historical piece of work. Save a few things (like the guns), everything else just seemed out of place and overly-dramatised. The movie’s most lamentable aspect is in its portrayal of British soldiers (including Hugh Rose) as mere cowards instead of formidable opponents. We should understand that wouldn’t have revered Lakshmi Bai as much if the people she fought against were such dingos as the film portrays them to be. Manikarnika’s visual grandeur exists only in its magnificent set designs but outside them, wherever the film required special or visual effects, it’s an eyesore. If we just forget about the shoddy VFX and think about simple SFX such as the spark at the barrel of a gun, everything has been done in a messy manner. The cinematography and editing do come to rescue but they fall weak due to the film’s heavy reliance on effects. The songs are good but they act as mere narrative breaks and could have been inducted into the storyline more effectively. There’s a lot to blast about Manikarnika but not enough patience in me to enumerate them all or even in you to read them all together.
Kangana Ranaut is everything that you’ll like in the film. She has managed to overcome her accent issues (well almost) and has donned both the humility and fierceness of her character perfectly. She gets all the best lines and development and she seldom lets you down as she nails every sequence no matter the emotions attached to it.
The film witnesses some fine performances by actors namely Jisshu Sengupta, Ankita Lokhande and Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub. Veterans Suresh Oberoi and Danny Dengzongpa are also good in their respective characters. However, the casting of the British actors is a huge disappointment as they were not bad but outright pathetic in their respective portrayals. I don’t know who dubbed for them but whoever did (and it seems like they didn’t), made them sound like Indians attempting British accent which was even more horrible!
Final Verdict: –
You don’t need to lionise the lioness! I wished the makers of Manikarnika – The Queen Of Jhansi realised this before destroying a potentially powerful story of a great personality through such lamentable filmmaking. One thing the movie does well is to induce a sense of pride and nationalism in the hearts of its Indian viewers but that doesn’t vindicate it from its myriad shortcomings which squander the film’s intriguing premise and terrific lead performance.