Just a few days ago I realized that Amazon prime now has Manikarnika, a movie which I wanted to watch because FIRST — it is about Rani Lakshmi Bai, one of the most badass feminists of our country; and SECOND – after watching Padmaavat, despite everything being super panoramic, I hated the story, and I had thought to myself that Manikarnika should be better than this.
Now, you may ask why I am not a fan of Padmaavat? My dislike has nothing to do with the cast or crew. In fact, the movie was picturesque, romantic and overall beautifully
My beef was with the director for choosing such a story in the first place. I am absolutely certain whatever path Padmaavati chose for herself was the best option she had back then to maintain her dignity and purity, however in today’s time, when women/girls are being rampant victims of various atrocities, is it a good idea to tell them that to keep your purity the best way out is immolation or any other manner of sacrificing self? What made my blood boil was the background score when Rani Padmaavati and her motley crew of women were on the way to the pyre.
So, last night, with high hopes and a tub of popcorn, I started with Manikarnika on my newly obtained Amazon Fire TV stick (This is so cool, now my non smart TV is internet TV now).
I must say, despite Kangana Ranaut’s acting, which is nothing less than fabulous and her independent feminist views (have seeped through the movie which I loved), the movie had some glaring flaws.
I understand that period dramas are always a tricky thing to create. It has to be a perfect mixture of live action with super CGI. We Indians have also proven that we are the supernerds behind some of the greatest movies of Hollywood. However, not sure why, but the CGI scenes in this movie left me sad. Rudimentary CGI effects made it seem that they were done by novice artists rather than professionals. The mighty Bengal tiger running towards Manikarnika in the initial part of the movie should have been breath taking, instead it looked like a giant kitty cat is flying through the garden.
Second disheartening thing was supreme lazy writing. The research team did not do a good work unfortunately. Studies may have been conducted with extensive school books and some abridged picture books created for kids. I would have liked to know more about her childhood, or some more information about the Sepoy mutiny and how it tied in with the rebellion in Jhansi.
Also, as an audience, I felt that instead of watching a movie about one of the stepping stones of Indian independence, I was merely watching a drama of hatred and vengeance between Rani Lakshmi Bai and Sir Hugh Rose. I will again blame the writer’s team for making it look so petty and frivolous.
After spending almost an entire night, two tubs of popcorn and one litre of ThumsUp, I finished both movies. First Padmaavat then Manikarnika. Even though, Padmaavat was pretty looking, I would still give higher accolades to Manikarnika (despite its bigger flaws) because at least Ranaut and Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi brought in some much-needed Indian feminist views to today’s audience.
Image Source: Wikipedia