'Manikarnika' fails, Kangana wins

'Manikarnika' fails, Kangana wins

A still from 'Manikarnika'.

She is the Rani of all things bling and bold. She has the swagger (and the dagger). And she nips all patriarchy talks in the bud with a feminist swipe of tongue.

When Kangana Ranaut is in the saddle, rest assured there is much more to 'Manikarnika' than what the history books have waxed eloquent on the Queen of Jhansi.

Be ready for a ruler who loves her subjects and animals alike. Ms Ranaut (who is the co-director here) is poetry in motion when she rides horses and an acrobat while mounting elephants. She also has some tranquilliser tricks up her royal sleeve that would have possibly saved Avni. Throw in a generous gaurakshak streak — the village calf doesn’t end up on the dinner table of the British — and you have a rebel who put up the strongest resistance to East India Company’s annexure plans.

Kangana lives up to her description — “a woman who was the only man among mutineers” (in the baritone of Bachchan, the narrator). And that is reason enough for the lady to take her real-life persona to reel one more time — outspoken, opinionated and with a great penchant for landing in trouble. Put on a good spine and Jhansi ki Rani is good to go.

She roars ‘Har Har Mahadev’ every time a Brit is in sight. The war cries, however, get diluted by all the baubles around. Those never-ending layers of jewellery and make-up make light of the greater freedom struggle the Maratha queen waged in 1857.

Expect no historical accuracy, subtlety or imagination in this period drama. The British, as usual, are cardboard villains roaming the princely state. All that matters here is Kangana and her sword that screams Happy Republic Day. It’s a hollow Matrubhoomi rhetoric, but the actor pours it out with much gumption.