Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi Story
Director: Radhakrishna Jagarlamudi and Kangana Ranaut
Cast: Kangana Ranaut as Manikarnika aka Manu and later Rani Lakshmi Bai, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub as Sadashiv, Atul Kulkarni as Tatya Tope, Jisshu Sengupta as Gangadhar Rao, Jisshu Sengupta as Gangadhar Rao and Ankita Lokhande as Jhalkaribai.
Manikarnika tells the story of the life of Manikarnika aka Manu and her journey from being a brave young woman to be the Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi or Jhansi Ki Rani. Manikarnika the daughter of Moropant Tambe grew up learning all sorts of martial skills and had shown commendable leadership qualities. Manikarnika's bravery was spotted by the minister of Jhansi kingdom when she was slaying a tiger. He asks for her hand in marriage to the king of Jhansi, Gangadhar Rao.
During the wedding festivities, Manikarnika who is now Rani Lakshmi Bai notices a spirited young lady named Jhalkaribai. Rani shows valor and an independent spirit which endears her to her subjects but irks Sadashiv Rao, a cousin of Gangadhar Rao who has an eye on the princely estate. When the Rani refuses to bow down to a British officer named Gordon which leads to tensions with the British.
When Jhalkaribai's calf is forcefully taken away by the British officers she follows them and gets beaten up. Enraged at this, the queen herself fights the officers and brings the calf back which sparks mutual respect between the Queen and Jhalkaribai. This slowly turns into a life-long friendship. During a celebration, Rani discovers that she became pregnant to the delight of everyone except Sadashiv Rao who is now collaborating with the British. It is indirectly indicated in the movie that he was involved in the death of the child which devastates the King.
The British tries to implement The Doctrine of Lapse despite the fact that before the king's death, the royal couple adopted a child with the name Damodar (same as their biological son). The rest of the story deals with the Rani's fight with the British and the consequences which form the crux of the First War of Independence in 1857.
Manikarnika received mixed to positive reviews from the critics and turned out to be an average grosser at the box office. Kangana Ranaut's performance was hailed as fierce and domineering and the story of the film inspiring. The overlong run time and marginalization of other characters were criticised.
Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi Trailer