'Manikarnika' gains average score but Kangana wins heart as Rani Laxmi Bai

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Representational Image
Representational Image

New Delhi : The much-talked about 'Manikarnika' is out. It is Kangana Ranaut’s first period film and ofcourse her first directorial venture alongside Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi for being at the helm of the project.

The journey of Manikarnika was not that easy for Kangana. Jagarlamudi left the film halfway and Kangana stepped in to shoot specific sequences. Sonu Sood parted ways abruptly, and there were some hushed rumours about Kangana’s interference and high handedness getting into everyone’s way. Also, the Karni Sena’s antics and Kangana's daring comeback should not be missed.

Coming to the film, Kangana Ranaut in ‘Manikarnika’ embodies the spirit and valour of Rani Laxmi Bai who fought the British with utmost courage and strength that stories of her bravery became part of folklore in India. 

In the opening scene, Kangana’s unwavering gaze as she holds the bow and arrow to hit a tiger, albeit a mediocre CGI creation, while her people look at her from the sidelines is awe-inspiring.

Kangana in the role of Rani Laxmi Bai seems aware of the attention, she arches her back, takes position and let’s the arrow pierce her target.

Her unruly mane in full glory and her blue saree’s pallu flying in zephyr is almost reminiscent of a Bhansali-esq hangover. The tiger is injured and then Ranaut nurses it back to life.

Kangana says her intention was never to harm the tiger, but to protect the people. That’s ‘Manikarnika’ who is always at the centre of action, surrounded by props and people.

As long as it’s an Amitabh Bachchan voice-over, we are willing to gloss over a lot of inaccuracies.

In Manikarnika, Kangana is not just good but she is a goddamn hard to look away from. Her stance and body language complement action sequences. Everything, including sword swagger, is perfect. In emotional scenes too, Kangana is exceptional.

The story begins in 1828 as an astrologer predicts that the new born Manikarnika “ka itihaas ke panno mein naam jeevit rahega(will be remembered in history).” She grows up beautiful and brave. Her alliance with Gangadhar Rao is supposed to help both Jhansi and the immoral ruler.

The British try every tactic to lay claim over Jhansi but Manikarnika refuses to back off.

Kangana as a whole take controls of the entire film but then we cannot forget that the project is a collaborative effort.

Jeeshu Sengupta plays the role of Manikarnika’s husband and Sanjay Suri has dubbed for him. 

Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub who stepped in to play Sadashiv Rao, the disgruntled brother, has an extended cameo as does Ankita Lokhande.

No doubt, Kangana stands tall but the film remains an average affair that works only sporadically. While Kangana doesn’t disappoint as an actor, as a director it’s important to lift every aspect of filmmaking. Overall, the film can be rated as 2.5 out of 5!