Kangana Ranaut’s Manikrnika is the story of the valiant leader who took charge as the rebel and went on to fight the British. Jhansi Rani or Rani Laxmi Bai as we have studied in our history books finally springs to life. If you fancied History classes during your school days and kept wondering how the Revolt of 1857 happened, who this brave lady who went on to chop British heads with her toddler on a horse, then the bloody stunts will certainly excite you. But for the strong action choreography, Kangana’s power packed acting, good support cast and other technical aspects like camera and BGM, the narration/story telling itself is average.
Jhansi Rani is certainly the most popular female freedom fighter, the warrior queen is one among the few patriotic heroines who have made it into our history books. Manikarnika tells the story of the lady who starts by showing her gentle side by shooting an arrow on a tiger that is about to pounce on its prey, then goes on to help the tiger. The story itself makes us want to imagine and conclude about how her character is said to unveil by narrating back to back incidents like this. The movie does not get into the thick of Laxmi Bai’s story and is treated more like a wait game for Kangana to come out as the Warrior queen and unleash her anger on the rivals. The scenes are ushered towards action instead of focusing on her heroism in surviving a period which was ruled by men, a period which rejoiced Sati and made women nothing more than a family backpack. Scripted by the writers of Baahubali, the grandeur in the movie somehow mismatches with the storyline.
Kangana itself is ferocious, her war cry sends down some spine-chilling moments, she is the primary reason why you should watch this movie. The action choreography is top notch and Kangana along with another actress Ankita do justice to the blade on all levels. There are loads of surprise too, Rani is seen speaking English and it might have the historians debating if she even did that – Bollywood’s liberty to do something dramatic seems too far stretched here. There are goosebumps’ moments that drive the cinematic experience beyond, like when the queen is supposed to be attending dead king’s rituals, she puts forward her Kingdom first and storms into by taking charge as the undisputed leader. With her son tied to her back, as she gallops her way into the British forces, it certainly is a moment to stand up and clap.
The movie itself shoots like a mass hero subject, in 1828 when an astrologer predicts that the new born Manikarnika will pen herself in history as one of the greatest. True, but the directional woes too evident here, Krish who was directing the movie left half way only to hand over the reigns to Kangana who has done top notch work in terms of acting, but its unclear who is to blame for the messy stuff. While she stands tall in the role, rest of the cast look a little misfit and their characters don’t just blend into the plot, look more like fillers.
Manikarnika is a good watch for people who love history and have longed to see one of their history book characters come alive.