Manikarnika - The Queen Of Jhansi

wogma rating: Watch but no rush (?)

quick review:

The makers take the strength of the original, real-life story and character for granted and entirely focus on form, rather than content. Good thing then that the brave warrior woman needs no man or depth in writing to shine.

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Running time: 150 minutes
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Manikarnika - The Queen Of Jhansi - Preview

It is a film about THE Jhansi Ki Raani, it is going to be laden heavy with nationalistic pride. It is a film with war scenes, they HAVE to be grand. It is a film about a warrior, it CANNOT DO without heavy filmy dialogue and heavier delivery. All those boxes are already checked in the trailer itself. Now, the question—will all of it get overdone in the film?

Right now that looks like a big, “YES!”

And that too with not very good CGI. Thankfully though, the allure towards grandeur makes the action choreography, the costume design, the cinematography all worth a watch. It did bring a smile that the title has the queen’s original name and not the one that it changed to after getting married. Hopefully, there will be more of such nuggets, and they will throw in a little story to keep the story-seekers amongst us happy too.

Manikarnika—The Queen Of Jhansi releases on 25 January 2019.

Music Reviews:
Bollyspice – "3.5/5"
Bollywood Hungama - "2/5"
Music Aloud – "3.5/5" - "With this stellar form writing paeans for nationalism, Joshi could perhaps be making a strong case for being re-hired to churn out catchy election slogans for 2019."
Times of India - "Their skill as composers shines through when you listen to the tracks in their album, some of which feature melodious live orchestration, while others have been crafted with minimal music."

- meeta, a part of the audience

Manikarnika—The Queen of Jhansi is not a great spectacle on screen. It is the story of a woman who had adequate support and yet was fighting against enough odds. It is the grit, the valour of the real-life queen that you want to watch the film for, even though it chooses to gloss over some crucial chapters in history. In parallel, there is something also to be said about the odds Kangna Ranaut has had to face in the industry she is from. The fact remains, however, that the film banks on the audience knowing enough of the queen to be in awe of her and doesn’t bother with details. It therefore merrily picks grandeur and superfluous dialogue to say what it has to say. And unfortunately, it fails on that count—maybe because this kind of grandeur needs bigger budgets.

We thus have a film that completely focuses on delivering a spectacle, but the visuals are hardly satisfying.

Kangna Ranaut might have worked hard to learn sword-fighting, but the fact is she still looks like a graceful dancer performing action-dance sequences rather than menacingly taking the enemy out. Dripping blood through hair and running through her teeth is alas, not enough. Her hop-skip-jump over horses and elephants look comical because it is almost as if you can see the remains of the erased rope-line that was holding and helping her fly through her stunts. Letting that slide would be giving grace marks to the film because it is about a woman. You can give the women, Manikarnika and Kangna wholesome applause, but it hurts to see the stunts trying to be impressive and yet staying well short of grand.

Thankfully, Kangna delivers a performance that is expected of an actor, in this genre. She convinces you of both her warmth and vigour. Both she and her character feel like they have the mettle needed to inspire. I did thank her for her conviction from the bottom of my heart.

I also thought the Manikarnika is a very clever nod to women empowerment. It shows the woman conforming to norms at her own will even if it is because the men around her who have empowered it. Her respect for the men in her life comes because of the people they are and what they mean to her and not because of patriarchy demands so. Interestingly, barring a couple of characters, the rest of the characters didn’t really make a fuss about the warrior being a woman. And that became a constant nag in my mind as a part of 2019’s audience—why did we regress? Why are we still in awe that a woman could do this? Why is it still a matter of gender and not just valour?

If only the film hadn’t completely focussed on making itself into an overly dramatic tool to kindle patriotism. With lines such as “my motherland is my mother, mother tongue is a mother,” the writing feels amateurish, one written because you know it will ring well with the audience rather than whether it makes sense within the context of the film. Such writing also ends up making the film monotonous because you know exactly what the characters are going to say and even how they are going to deliver their line.

We thus have a film that completely focuses on delivering a spectacle, but the visuals are hardly satisfying. And those of us who know about the freedom struggle well enough, don’t really need a film to make them admire one of the mutineers who they owe their freedom to.

- meeta, a part of the audience

37 reviewers(?) - 13 yays 15 so-so 9 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Subhash K Jha, Bolly Spice : ...All said and done, Manikarnika moves us, though not in ways they should have. There is too much going on at any given time to focus on the heart and thoughts of a woman who defeated the Britishers with a child in her lap. Did the child ever wet the Rani’s costly silk sarees? We would never know. The characters of this film are not prone to human frailties.... full review

Thumbs up, Bollywood Hungama : ...On the whole, MANIKARNIKA – THE QUEEN OF JHANSI is a well-made historical with the right scale, emotional quotient and battle sequences as its highpoint. Also, Kangana Ranaut's performance is the icing on the cake. At the box office, the film comes at the right time as the Republic Day period will further add to the film’s prospects.... full review

Thumbs up, by Tushar P. Joshi, Bollywood Life : ...Manikarnika is a must watch for the glory that Kangana brings to the experience of watching the life and time of one of Indian history's bravest warriors. Don’t miss this one.... full review

Thumbs up, by Deepali Srivastawa, Catch News : ...फिल्म 'मणिकर्णिका' में आपको कमाल के VFX देखने को मिलेंगे जिस पर डायरेक्टर कंगना और कृष ने कड़ी मेहनत की है. इसके साथ ही फिल्म के दोनों ही पार्ट आपको पलकें झपकाने का मौका नहीं देंगे. फिल्म में डायलॉग है एक कंगना कहती है "जब अपने ही मां को बेच डाले, हे मातृभूमि हम तुम्हें कैसे संभाले." इसके अलावा फिल्म में गाना है 'भारत ये रहना चाहिए' ये गाना फिल्म में एक अलग ही समां बांध देगा. फिल्म 'मणिकर्णिका' को बनाने में काफी मेहनत की गई है और ये फिल्म कई विवादों से जूझते हुए आज रिलीज हो रही है. झांसी की रानी की गौरवगाथा से पूरा इतिहास भरा हुआ है लेकिन इस फिल्म में जिस तरह से कंगना और सभी स्टार्स ने उसे दर्शाया है वो वाकई काबिल-ए-तारीफ है.... full review

Thumbs up, by Meena Iyer, DNA : ...Verdict: Even today, an important chapter in Indian history tomes is dedicated to the Queen of Jhansi. Watch her story unfold in this lavishly-mounted screen spectacle.... full review

Thumbs up, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...Today, in a world growing more cynical by the minute, we need to be reminded of real heroes who lived and died for their beliefs. Manikarnika manages to reintroduce one of the most awe-inspiring figures from India's past. A legend gets reborn, at least on screen, and maybe that's the only reality palatable to us right now...... full review

Thumbs up, by R.M. Vijayakar, India West : ...Overall, the film makes for a good watch, as it is a sincere effort. If the flaws and shortfalls had been corrected, it would have been a repeat-value, memorable epic.... full review

Thumbs up, by Anita Iyer, Khaleej Times : ...Music composer trio, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, lift the movie with anthems like Bharat, Vijayi Bhava. Abhishek Ghatak's background score is pulsating in the battlefield scenes towards the climax. The music department makes sure Kangana gets her heroic moment, befitting the star of the film.... full review

Thumbs up, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, Manikarnika – The Queen Of Jhansi is a visual form of our History chapters but a very intriguing and beautiful looking one. No one could have done this better than Kangana Ranaut and she is brutally bloody beautiful! If you’re watching this, watch it on a big screen.... full review

Thumbs up, by Priyanka Sinha Jha, : ...Manikarnika, is a brave attempt at resurrecting the legend of a heroic Indian Queen, a feat that it accomplishes.... full review

Thumbs up, by Ganesh Nadar, Rediff : ...Prasoon Joshi's dialogues are meant to make you feel patriotic and they do. The direction concentrates on the queen and everyone else is a prop.... full review

Thumbs up, by Ronak Kotecha, Times of India : ...Overall, Manikarnika is a well-made film that highlights Kangana’s prowess as an actor. For a first time filmmaker, she undoubtedly shows spark and potential as a storyteller. Short of an epic, this larger-than-life war drama has enough valour and spirit to keep you engaged in these pages of history.... full review

Thumbs up, by Divyanshi Sharma, Zee News : ...Watch it for the intense moments of thrill that it has to offer and for the lead actress, who has also turned a director with this venture. As a first time filmmaker, Kangana has proven her skills and the film stands victorious.... full review

So-So, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks : ...MANIKARNIKA also suffers as it has too much of Kangana Ranaut in the story telling, in almost every scene of the script, which in turn hampers the impact of the historical event, especially when the mutiny of 1857 is also hushed up quickly with a voice over. The over-length of around 150 minutes also becomes a major hindrance after a while, even if you try to ignore the occasional amateurish CGI work and less appealing battlefield sequences in the second half.... full review

So-So, by Anupama Chopra, Film Companion : ...At two hours and twenty-eight minutes, Manikarnika is unforgivably long. It’s been directed by both Krish Jagarlamudi and Kangana herself. In interviews, Kangana has said that 70 percent of it is her work. If yes, then she is an effective storyteller but the actor in her undermines the director. Because the actor becomes larger than the narrative.... full review

So-So, by Madhuri V, Filmi Beat : ...Kiran Deohans and Gnana Shekar V.S' cinematography spells of grandiose. Rameshwar Bhagat and Surag Jagptap's editing is sloppy. Coming to the music department, barring 'Vijayi Bhava', none of the tracks linger with you for long. While the sword-fighting scenes are impressive, the battle sequences turn out to be a repetitive and tiresome experience instead.... full review

So-So, by Vishal Verma, : ...MANIKARNIKA – THE QUEEN OF JHANSI is filled with major flaws and passion and pride for India in equal proportion. Kangana Ranaut tribute to one of India’s bravest warrior Queen Rani Laxmibai on screen is painted with dignity, love and grace. Watch it to find how a woman with a child on her back fought like a tigresses to the cowards and selfish British and didn,t gave up till the end of her last breath. For the sake of Kangana, Mother India and Republic Day mood going with a generous 3 stars... full review

So-So, by Manjusha Radhakrishnan, Gulf News : ...If you are a fan of warrior epic that’s solely Ranaut’s battlefield, this one is for you. Others can safely duck this nationalism-fuelled saga. Don’t miss it!... full review

So-So, by Raja Sen, Hindustan Times : ...The overall impact is admittedly Amar Chitra Katha, and the storytelling is structured like a children’s film — albeit one with a fair bit of blood — which may not be a bad move, considering how quickly viewers get used to the simplistic syntax. There is much that is laughable, not least the British villains who attend court wearing bowlers and top hats and retire for wartime sleep in black satin pyjamas, but like the history books have always advertised about Jhansi, this is a one-woman show.... full review

So-So, by Lakshana N Palat, india today : ...So should you watch Manikarnika? Make an informed choice. If you're a Kangana Ranaut fan, Manikarnika is THE film for you. If you remember your history lessons, take Manikarnika with a generous pinch of salt, says our review.... full review

So-So, indiaglitz : ...Verdict: Overall, Manikarnika is a good watch for people who love history and have longed to see one of their history book characters come alive.... full review

So-So, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...The 1857 Mutiny pops up too, and we get a glimpse of the ‘greased cartridges’ and the ‘chhaavni of Meerut’ and the ‘rebel’ armies falling by the wayside. But we know it’s all window dressing, a backdrop for the Rani to rise, and show us what bravery and valour and patriotism is all about. Ranaut in full battle mode is a sight to behold: harnessed, charged up, tearing and slashing through the rows of ‘dushman’ soldiers, all snarly and bloody. The battle scenes are impressive: lots of ‘josh’ right there.... full review

So-So, by Mayank Shekhar, MiD DAY : ...We've all read about Rani Lakshmibai in middle-school history. But we remember her best from the Allahabadi poet Subhadra Kumari Chauhan's long poem with the famous descriptor, 'Bundele har bole ki muh, humne suni kahani thi. Khoob ladi mardani, who toh Jhansi wali Rani thi.' A genuine, soul-stirring tribute to her phenomenal heroism can at best hope to come close to Chauhan's immortal lines. Yes, this one does.... full review

So-So, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...Manikarnika is a blood-splattered odyssey that celebrates th... full review

So-So, by Rajeev Masand, : ...That unforgettable line and the image of a female warrior on horseback, a sword raised in one hand, a baby strapped to her back, is, for many, the first thing that comes to mind when one mentions Rani Lakshmibai. As it turns out, this film, directed by Krish Jagarlamudi and Kangana herself, doesn’t expand your understanding of the iconic warrior queen much more.... full review

So-So, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...In one of Manikarnika's profoundly bizarre moments, she bursts forth as Sir Rose's Kali-shaped nightmare; it is both -- bonkers and ingenious.... full review

So-So, by SHILPA JAMKHANDIKAR, Reuters : ...Still, Kangana Ranaut does her best. She is awkward and stilted as the demure bride but comes into her own as the warrior queen. She adds a swagger to her stride and a steely determination to her demeanour that are hard not to cheer for. She is the only thing that make this film worth a watch.... full review

So-So, by Troy Ribeiro, Sify Movies : ...Overall, this film is awe inspiring due to its grandeur but fails to touch the emotional chord in your heart.... full review

Thumbs down, by Deepa Gahlot, Cinemaa Online : ...She dominates the film, which is completely without subtlety or nuance. Other characters like the treacherous Sadashiv Rao (Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub), Ghaus Khan (Danny Denzongpa) or Tatya Tope (Atul Kulkarni) are given nothing much to do. Kangana Ranaut’s presence and enthusiasm are remarkable, more than her one-note performance. Mostly, she glowers, bares her teeth and spouts rhetoric.... full review

Thumbs down, by SUPARNA SHARMA, Deccan Chronicle : ...Manikarnika is insanely prescriptive. Its dialogue and supporting characters exist only to instruct audiences what to feel about the main character. This is the hallmark of B-grade, middle brow cinema, and is the default mode when the cinematic skills of the team are wanting.... full review

Thumbs down, by Anna MM Vertticad, FirstPost : ...Kangana Ranaut is born to be an action star, but she needs to evolve as a director. Rani Lakshmibai was a great woman. She deserves better than a poorly written film that chooses to use her for its own self-serving ends.... full review

Thumbs down, by Johnson Thomas, Free Press Journal : ...Action director Nick Powell may have managed to orchestrate some glorious swordplay but it’s never consistent or awe-inspiring. The numerous songs are very much a drag while the background score, attempts to raise the tempo in hollowed out fashion. The choppy editing also makes it seem like Kangana wasn’t interested in making this a gritty, believable experience. Even Kiran Deohans’ experience-enabled cinematography can’t raise this dolled-up spectacle to epic heights.... full review

Thumbs down, by Komal Nahta, Komal Nahta : ...On the whole, Manikarnika – Jhansi Ki Rani is a below-average fare which lacks a strong patriotic flavour and a strong antagonist. It has Kangana trying very hard to take it to the victory post but that’s a tall order because of the relatively slow start and absence of entertainment value for the youth. Collections will jump tomorrow (26th January) due to Republic Day national holiday but that won’t be enough to ensure that the film reaches the safety mark.... full review

Thumbs down, by Uday Bhatia, Live Mint : ...Manikarnika is the sum of what it’s saying – it doesn’t have visual stratagems strong enough to distract the viewer. It lacks the intricate design of Bajirao Mastani and Padmaavat and the muscular drive of Baahubali, only coming to life when it borrows the bloody graphic-novel look of Zack Snyder films... full review

Thumbs down, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...Manikarnika is agonizingly soulless. Platitudes piled upon synthetic platitudes do not add up to great cinema, especially when none of the film's war cries delivers any bang for its buck. Save yours and give the film a miss unless you like the sound of misfires.... full review

Thumbs down, by Manisha Lakhe, Now : ...It is the story of Rani laxmibai, the queen of Jhansi, who fought against the British rather valiantly. Kangana Ranaut tries very hard, but her gorgeous jewelry outshines her effort. It's a tale of courage sadly told.... full review

Thumbs down, by Nandini Ramnath, : ...The movie surrounds Ranaut with many other actors to give an impression of an epic saga, but only Danny Denzongpa makes an impression as Ghaus Khan, Lakshmibai’s loyal commandant. Atul Kulkarni is wasted as Tatya Tope, while Ankita Lokhande, playing the soldier Jhalkaribai, is not allowed to take the attention away from the queen.... full review

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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Loads and loads of war scenes. Some bits could be gory for really young children who aren’t exposed to filmy violence.
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None
  • Concept: The life story and sacrifices by a real-life Indian queen who was one of the mutineers against the British.
  • General Look and Feel: An attempt at a grand war film

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Music Director:

Comments (3)

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Anand Sachdev

Dear Meeta,
What kind of rating is "watch when on Tv" etc.
I mean to say it should be on readers to decide where to watch it. You should say whether it's worth watching or not rather than directing the audience where to watch it. If it's a good movie say it's worth watching if its pathetic say it's so.
Have you noticed how many movies you are directing audience to watch on TV? It's getting too much now hence I have to write in this tone.

@Andy Hi! The idea is to give the readers an "action point". The question the ratings answer is beyond just whether or not one should watch the film, "Is it worth spending
- time (traffic + movie),
- money (ticket, most times more than one + fuel/cab/parking + popcorn ;)), and
- energy (a fine evening or valuable weekend siesta) over the film?"

Meeta - is this the first time in Indian Cinema a female star has directed herself?

Sounds like an interesting movie, and a bit more nutritious than our usual fare (our movie last week was KHILADI 786, because - Akshay!) Once it makes it to streaming or DVD/Blu-Ray (probably streaming), it sounds worth a look...

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