Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi (Krish) and Kangana Ranaut present a visually stunning picture of the strong willed Queen of Jhansi
Did the trailer at any point remind you of the grandeur of Bhansali’s films? If yes, be ready for an equally jaw-dropping canvas in the major part. If no, and if you were able to identify this one purely as an individual entity, good for you. You’ll love this one. Manikarnika by and large remains a period drama enjoyable to the section particularly into overall entertainment with a hint of aesthetics.
The period biographical plot is based on the Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi, her rise and war against East India Company, mainly during the revolt of 1857.
In one scene Rani Laxmbai screams with grief over the death of her infant son. In just the next sequence, she takes the oath as the Queen. Kangana Ranaut seals both- with an exquisite display of emotions.
The film is a treat to all your senses. While you appreciate the bright scenic palette through eyes, your mind and heart too are engrossed in the nitty-gritties of the plot. You feel the film, its emotions, its values, and the reference.
Written by K V Vijeyndra Prasad, the story is detailed packing in a lot of details. The basic premise begins much earlier that what is commonly known about Laxmibai- her childhood, her thoughts about the nation and East India Company, she becoming the Queen, to taking the reins in her hands, and so on. Every aspect has been clearly put forth with sincerity in all of them. The dialogues by Prasoon Joshi are clapworthy evoking a sense of belonging to the motherland.
The screenplay moves at leisurely pace establishing the context well, emphasizing on qualities of Manikarnika- her flamboyance, fearlessness, her caring attitude, valour, and determination. While the film also remains informative and historical, it also talks at length about the protagonist, making you glued to the plot.
However, it’s not a flawless film. The screenplay does have evident cracks, which could have been avoided. A convenient screenplay misses out on conviction in a few sequences and you feel the makers took you for granted. Also, unnecessary slo-mo in action sequences puts you off, and even a layman would rub it off. But the makers balance it with a heart wrenching climax.
One more thing that you wish could be stronger is the supporting cast. Not that the actors aren’t skilled. You have an amazing array of magnificent actors on board, but almost all of them are reduced to tiny roles, even though history takes immense pride in them.
Kangana Ranaut proves yet again why she is one of the best actresses in the industry. She not only gets into the character deeply, she also makes you connect. With a contemporary approach to the legendary Queen’s portrayal, Ranaut makes the character look believable, never going overboard. Also she has a lot of dimensions to work upon, and she effortlessly sails through. A young girl, wife, mother, queen, warrior- she becomes all of these with equal grace.
Atul Kulkarni as Tatya Tope is mind-blowing. The history books have already told us about his exemplary support. On the screen, its a delightful character. Only thing- you wished you had more of his character. Before you realize, he’s gone.
Jisshu Sengupta as Gangadhar Rao, Danny Denzongpa as Ghaus Khan, and Suresh Oberoi are good, but since their characters haven’t been written with thought, they can’t contribute much.
Kulbhushan Kharbanda and Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub too are good in their respective acts.
The British actors also aren’t given significant roles except Richard Keep who as General Hugh Rose is impressive as a shrewd and cunning officer. Ankita Lokhande in her cinematic debut makes her strong foothold, even in the brief stint.
A good film scores high on its supporting cast. One big letdown here by the makers.
Shankar Ehsaan Loy’s music is soulful, and like almost all of their previous films, they make this one a wholesome album as well. The songs are placed well and sound right, giving the film the soul it needed at certain moments. Also Prasoon Joshi’s lyrics are gems. Sanchit and Ankit Balhara’s background score is definitely a winner, being completely in tune with the aura of the film.
Cinematography by Kishan Deohans and Gnan Shekhar V S is simply beautiful making you consume the film by your eyes, in almost the entire part. The only time you don’t like it is during some extra decoration done to action scenes including the not-so-good VFX and forced slow motion. Otherwise, the camera entices you in a manner that you adore what you see.
Rameshwar Bhagat and Suraj Jagtap’s editing is good. It would have given much more satisfaction had there been more intelligence put in war action scenes.
Production design is simply marvellous with sets and lighting created to take you in a royal world. Even if the film is played on mute, you’ll like it for its visual appeal.
Directors Krish and Kangana Ranaut have given a film worth all the hype. Just a little more thought and conviction in using VFX right, and the film would be perfect. Think of it, India has seen people with such immense bravery, something that you feel right while watching the film. And this is the biggest victory of the film.