The historical mess, factual discrepancies, sloppy characterization, shoddy direction, and Manish Malhotra-esque fashion ensemble notwithstanding, Manikarnika is still worth a watch for another stellar performance from Kangana Ranaut, who regally and fiercely embodies every aspect of The Queen of Jhansi, and a few goosebump patriotic moments against our colonial oppressors.
Alas, the aforementioned moments are few and far between, and Kangana the actress barely saves Kangana the Director from falling. Besides the glaring historical fallacies, it’s also baffling to see how conveniently Rani Laxmibai achieved her objectives whenever she has her back to the wall. The rate at which she goes about converting people, with a howl here and a war cry there, makes you wonder if she’s a Queen on a mission or Catholic missionary priest.
Furthermore, it would’ve been welcome if Kangana didn’t hog the limelight in almost every frame, reducing great actors like Danny Denzogpa and Atul Kulkarni, and subsequently their characters, Gulam Gaus Khan and Tatya Tope, to mere footnotes. Her direction almost feels like that kid you played cricket with during your childhood, who always kept batting despite getting out just because it was his bat.
I’m not completely disappointed with Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, but it certainly didn’t fulfill the promise of its trailer. At the box-office, I believe the film will take a good opening owing to the strong buzz, screen count, and Republic Day fervor, but post the weekend, we’ll have to wait and see.
Movified Rating: 2.5/5