Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi Movie Review: A big yawn

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In spite of Kangana Ranaut’s magnificent performance, Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi is a tedious watch.

It all started with a small yawn. Not that I was sleepy but nothing really interesting was transpiring initially. I waited. Then, a bigger yawn came through. And by the time intermission arrived, it got so mind-numbing that the biggest of all yawn happened and it kept on coming through thereafter until the end. Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi is dullsville.

The best thing that has happened to this film is the title. What better title can you give than Manikarnika? (It is the name of the protagonist and hence, the movie as well) Other than that, this is a soulless tribute to one of the most legendary heroes of India’s struggle for freedom from the British rule. The story of Manikarnika (played by Kangana Ranaut) is not something unheard of. It is one of the most referenced heroes of all time in Indian history. Directed by Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi and Kanaut Ranaut, the movie exhibits the developments leading up to the revolt of 1857, where Manikarnika, who later adopted the name of Rani Laxmibai, led from the front.

Visual effects are below par. When Manikarnika is pointing her arrow at a fast-moving tiger, you can apparently judge that it’s not a real tiger because of not so great graphics work. Also, some of the stunts performed by Kangana Ranaut clearly looks like a CG work (she climbs over an elephant as if some external force has picked her up from the neck and dropped her off over the elephant).

The movie is plagued with dramatic dialogues trying to enhance the wrath, gutsiness and patriotism that are associated with particular scenes. They made it look like watching an Indian soap opera. A British officer mocks at Manikarnika by saying that she can’t even speak English and chuckles along with other officers (Oh! Very funny) to which she presents a stagy response. The duel that Manikarnika had with Captain Gordon (Edward Sonnenblick) consisted of a theatrical exchange of dialogues that never looked impressive.

Some of the characters never developed into an interesting part of the film. Sadashiv (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub looks convincing in this role) is an ally of British officers but his character never bowls you over as it intends to. Even the character of Jhalkari Bai (Ankita Lokhande) did not have any impact at all. She shows some moves in a song called ‘Dankila’ (The music of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy is not likeable either) and comes out in support of Manikarnika but I was not moved by her emotional yells.

Kangana Ranaut shines all the way. She looked like she belonged there. When she keeps a stern face to show that she has got the pluck to talk to a British officer and declines to bow her head before him, she does look menacing.

Some of the scenes really look emotional (but they were so few that it couldn’t alter the fate of the film). Captain Gordon enters the village with an army and everyone kneels down except an old man who is unable to. It was horrifying to see a British officer hitting hard at that old man’s legs as he falls down in pain. The animal love of Manikarnika was beautifully brought out when we get to know that she has not killed the tiger with her arrow but only made it unconscious so that it can be sent back deep into the forest. She also forbids her husband from killing a deer as we see a mother deer feeding milk to a baby deer. It was great to see when Manikarnika mobilises women and trains them. Even the fight that transpires towards the end was high on emotions.

In the beginning, there is a mock sword fighting among some of the family members of Manikarnika as she joins them in the process. Excluding Kangana, that whole sequence looked so unprofessional (devoid of swiftness and agility). It seemed like they have picked the sword for the very first time in their life and are just flashing it around. Maybe that was a hint that sort of foretold how dull the movie will turn out to be. In spite of Kangana Ranaut’s magnificent performance, Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi is a tedious watch.