First and foremost, I really have no clue who is right and who is wrong in the Kangana vs All slugfest, but if this film is a result of Kangana taking over & ‘fixing’ the film, then I don’t see why anyone should have any complaints. Coz it has turned out to be an excellent movie.
Secondly, and this cannot be emphasised enough. It is through films & stories like this one that you start to see the real impact that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj & the Maratha empire he built the foundation of, had on India, on its people and their psyche. Imagine how powerful his persona would have been, that decades after his death, he inspired hundreds of thousands of people of all sexes and religions with his ideology & his valour
Lastly, the film subtly serves as a reminder that the destruction of Jhansi, at the hands of the British, would not have happened if it hadn’t been for a entitled treacherous asshole from within. Further all of Manikarnika’s ‘neighbours’ chose to save their skin & their money and not come to her aid against the British.
So, while we can blame the British for all the crimes & cruelty that they engaged in, more often that not, it has been weak, entitled, corrupt ‘leadership’ on our side that helped those bastards to colonise us.
The writing of the film is rather good. Screenplay has good pace & you do not feel bored one bit. The dialogues are top-notch too. The lyrics lift the film tremendously. Overall it is excellently written by Vijayendra Prasad (Story & Screenplay) & Prasoon Joshi (Dialogues & Lyrics).
Visually – the film is 50:50. Cinematography is good and quite creative in some scenes. While overall, the scale & visual appeal of the grandeur of the Maratha kingdoms is depicted well, there are places where the visuals (primarily the VFX) are a bit tacky (honesly, that’s a factor of the budget more than anything else). The production design, however, is fantastic. And Neeta Lulla has killed it with her costumes. Without doubt, the costumes play a huge role in building up the impact that Manikarnika/Kangana on screen.
The choreography & shooting of the action scenes deserves special mention. While the wider shots are iffy, the close-up action shots are fantastic!
Editing is alright. Transitions between scenes could have been less jerky, but that’s what happens when you re-shoot a lot & do a decent amount of patchwork. The music & background score is excellent. Lifts the film enormously. ‘Bharat’ is possibly one of the most patriotically energetic songs I’ve heard for a while.
Performances are what make the film. It is Kangana’s film through & through and she absolutely NAILS it! Both in the drama & the action. I dunno how she does it, but despite her relatively petite physicality, she absolutely delivers a ‘mardaani’ Jhansi ki Rani performance! Kudos to her.
Rest of the cast do well. Feels great to see Danny on screen after a while. Jisshu Sengupta does well in a decent sized role. I don’t understand why everyone made so much fuss about Ankita Lokhande’s on-screen debut. It is average, at best. Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Atul Kulkarni, Suresh Oberoi, Mishti & the rest of the ensemble are all competent. Good ensemble acting overall.
All-in-all, Manikarnika is an excellent film. It deserves to be seen to understand the awesome individual strength & achievement of Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi and the deep history of women empowerment, valour and sacrifice that India’s past holds!!!