Director: Kangana Ranaut, Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi
Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Jishu Sengupta, Suresh Oberoi, Danny Denzongappa, Atul Kulkarni, Ankita Lokhande, Misti, Unnati Davera, Zeeshan Ayub, Rajeev kacharo, Nihar Pandya, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Manish Wadhwa
The first step of any movie is to have a heart at a right place to show your honest intention in telling the story. Kangana Ranaut starrer Manikarnika succeeds in that. But, to make a good film, you need to go further than that: you got to have a strong execution. This is where Manikarnika unfortunately doesn’t shine. Kangana is such a powerful actress and she embodies the character of Rani Laxmibai perfectly but I feel the film needed a better director to tell this brave tale.
Remember Inception’s dialogue? “In dreams, we never know how we got somewhere; we are always in the middle of it.” When a great actor portrays the role, you don’t really question whether he/she could do the role or not, you already start enjoying his/her performance. Kangana Ranaut, with her firm and intense acting, makes you believe from the first moment that she is going to take you to that era of Jhansi Ki Rani and you don’t think once whether she could do this or not.
The problem is that Kangana’s glorious performance is the only constant thing in the film which impresses you; rest is very inconsistent due to which the film couldn’t become a worthy watch.
The initial presentation of Manikarnika is done quite well. The story of Manu, her early days when she was with her father, her rebel instincts and zeal for righteousness, patriotism are showcased gracefully. Once she reaches Jhansi, the screenplay starts losing its hold. There are good dialogues but not great scenes in the film.
Apart from Kangana as Rani Laxmibai, the makers didn’t develop any other character to the point where you will engage with them. Understand this, supporting characters strengthen the film and compel us to believe in the protagonist and the story.
The characters of Gangadhar Rao (Jisshu Sengupta), Ghulam Ghaus Khan (Danny Denzongpa), Jhalkari Bai (Ankita Lokhande), Tatya Tope (Atul Kulkarni) don’t create much impact. One defining scene of Jhalkari Bai during the fight needed a better execution.
Kangana’s ‘never backing down’ attitude in front of the British officers is brilliant. Whenever she is on screen, the way she walks, outtalks, outfights others, the film looks hopeful and watchable. One fight sequence where Kangana rapidly and single-handedly kills many English regimen fighters to protect her kid is superbly delivered. These are some aspects which are positives of the movie.
However, the battles are not very impressive and VFX done is weak. Villains like Gordon and Hugh Rose are too dramatic and less threatening. Negative character needs to be equally powerful as the lead to make the face-off memorable and gripping. These inconsistencies inhibit the film from becoming a wholesome cinematic experience.
It’s sad to see so many problems associated with Manikarnika project. If the film had a terrific director, it could have easily become a great one. It’s still better than Padmaavat though. Kangana Rananut carries the movie as much as she can as an actor but a better storyteller was needed to reach her level of acting greatness and to tell the brave story of Jhansi Ki Rani.