This film continues to be weird and rough and broken. And yet, it is still supposed to release in a month! Headline is, there was a Grand Trailer Launch about 5 hours ago, press and stars and all, and then the trailer hit youtube and industry folks tweeted it. And then the trailer was pulled from youtube by the studio and is no longer available and no one knows why. What the heck????
Trailer launch seemed a bit odd too. It was all about Kangana, which is okay, she is the only big name in the film and it is very much a star film. Her parents were there, she said she feels they gave birth to her so she could play this role. Fine, okay. She said it was her decision to release on Republic Day. She said she loved directing far more than acting even though it was much harder work. She said the script never changed and she gives full credit to the writers (as in, I was just following the script, not taking over the movie).
Really, I think it was just odd because Kangana in one person had to combine so much. They had her arrive in character, so she is representing the hero of the film. And she had to be the primary spokesperson as the biggest name attached. And she also had to answer questions from the perspective of the director. She was wearing three hats (Rani Lakshmibai, Actress Kangana, and Director Kangana).
Prasoon Joshi was there as the lyricist (curious to see what he ends up doing with the film as censor), and Shankar Madhavan as one of the composers (always exciting to have another Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy soundtrack). So, a bit of a strange exclusion to not have Krish, the original director, present. But, okay, I am sure he is rushing through post-production work down south for his NTR biopic.
And then the trailer launched. And promptly was pulled back to shore and put in dry dock for a bit longer.
Oh oh!!!! I just checked and it is up again! WHY????
Okay, so now I get to talk about the trailer itself. First, I am very disturbed by the magicalizing of recent history. Making her into some kind of warrior goddess. Doing the Bhansali. At least with Padmavat, it was based on fiction. This is an actual real historical figure that has multiple primary sources describing her and her actions. I don’t like her story being turned into this “magical flowing locks killing a tiger” person. Somehow, it feels disrespectful, like what she really was wasn’t enough, we have to make her more than that.
And less than that. I miss the strategy! The politics! The discussions between allies and so on! And the grander sweep, Jhansi wasn’t the only place fighting this war, this was part of a larger national revolt. Oh, and also the compromises, she was a loyal ally of the British, writing to them for help and authority, until they betrayed her, at which point she allied with a group of fellow rulers and rebels.
Also, this is SOOOOOO violent!!!! Really disturbingly so. Especially considering how poor the CGI is. That shot of her sword cutting through a man’s head didn’t make me pump my fist and go “awesome!”, it made me cringe a little because it felt like they thought I would be so excited by the idea of a head being split that I wouldn’t care if it was shot well or not. If that makes sense? Like the very idea of violence is so intoxicating, I don’t care about the execution?
Oh, and the other thing with the trailer, which could just be a choice on the part of the marketing team, there is almost no dialogue, and it is entirely Kangana focused. I still don’t have a good idea who Atul Kulkarni is playing, or Ankita Lokhande, or Danny Denzongpa. But the title of the film is Manikarnika, maybe the thinking is to build up the central character and the fight scenes and leave it for the actual film to deal with the other characters.
And, just in case you didn’t catch the Hindi, she referenced both “Bharat” (Hindu term for India, avoiding the more secular “Hindustan”) and “Shivaji” (Hindu Maharashtra warrior and ruler who fought the Mughals and has become a symbol of Hindutva, even though historical Jhansi was an ally of the Mughals and had nothing to do with Maharashtra or Shivaji).