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Movie Critic
Jul 19, 2011
The movie is about the Queen of Jhansi called Rani Lakshmibai , who became famous for revolting against and fighting the British rulers in the mutiny of 1857 , called by nationalists as the 1857 war of independence .

She is played by Kangana Ranaut , who looks simply divine right from the start wearing the clothes of traditional hindu unmarried girls but with a filmy flair . She is born in a Marathi brahman family in Bithur , where she is brought up by the Peshwa of the Maratha empire as a girl skilled in arts of war . But the Peshwa has been stripped of all his powers by the British and granted a jagir in Bithur . She is fondly called Manu by her friends , which is short for her name Manikarnika .

One day a person called Dixitji ( Kulbhushan Kharbanda ) from the Maratha ruled state of Jhansi sees her wounding a tiger with an arrow and is impressed . He asks for her hand in marriage for the ruler of Jhansi , Gangadhar Rao ( Jisshu Sengupta ) . After marriage , her mother in law tries to put restrictions on her but her husband allows her freedom . She rides a horse fast like the wind and fights sword battles with three people at a time . Her name is changed to Lakshmibai according to the hindu custom of changing a woman's name after marriage .

But the son born to her dies and so does her husband , but not before she is able to adopt a son she names after her original son Damodar Rao . This disappoints the claimant to the throne called Sadashiv , played by Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub . He is in league with the British who cast covetous eyes on Jhansi .

However Rani Lakshmibai refuses to play docile widow and cut her hair as demanded by custom . She banishes her conservative mother in law to Kashi instead . She sits on the throne with Damodar Rao as heir . She is helped by Jhalkaribai ( Ankita Lokhande ) and Ghaus Khan ( Danny Denzongpa ) . She even trains women with weapons to defend her kingdom .

But the shadow of the British empire is over Jhansi , and Sadashiv is deviously plotting to get the throne for himself along with them . Soon war breaks out and becomes intermingled in the 1857 mutiny . The British lay siege to Jhansi and after a brave fight the Queen has to escape with the help of Jhalkaribai who poses as the Rani in order to fool the British , and also with the help of Ghaus Khan who lays down his life .

The Rani joins other mutineers like Tatya Tope ( Atul Kulkarni ) and captures the mighty fortress of Gwalior by appealing to the patriotism of it's guarding soldiers . The British led by General Hugh Rose ( Richard Keep ) attack Gwalior which is valiantly defended by Rani Lakshmibai who has to painfully leave her adopted son behind , and she dies a heroic death on the battlefield .

The movie has been superbly photographed , with grand palaces and mighty forts shown in all their grandeur . The life of royalty in those days is shown in all it's finery . Kangana Ranaut look beautiful and the atmosphere around her is rich with magnificent colour . The battles and sieges are well photographed too , with the orange flames of cannons interspersed with the yellow flames of torches which light the forts' bastions at night . The march of the soldiers both Indian and British , and the charge of their horsemen is well shown . The blood reddened face of the Rani as she fights her final battle is inspiring . All in all the movie is an imposing spectacle .

Hindu nationalists will be enthused that the hindi spoken in the movie is pure and urdu words that lace other hindi movies are not much spoken . Hindu culture and symbols abound ; the British officer once wakes from a dream in which he has seen the Rani in the form of goddess Kali , and when the Rani dies she dies in flames that turn into the shape of OM . And when the Indian cavalry charges , their flags form a sea of saffron .

Kangana Ranaut acts well as the Queen inspired by patriotism for the motherland , and is assisted ably by other actors . Background music and songs are decent enough .

Verdict---Good .

Four stars out of five

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