Bollywood actor-director Kangana Ranaut and producer Kamal Jain were recently in Chennai to promote their upcoming film Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, releasing worldwide on January 25.
Producer Kamal Jain was all praise for Kangana. He said, “Being a young mother and a warrior, life of Rani Laxmi Bai was challenging. She fought against all odds, for example, the conflict she faced when the rebels reached Jhansi and so on. I feel fortunate for being a part of this film that has a wonderful story and a screenplay. I am sure nobody other than Kangana would have done justice to the character. She has breathed life into it. Her boundaries weren’t just confined to being an actor.”
Further, Kangana said, “Usually, it’s easy to play a character that is flawed, but to take up the role of someone who was a perfect woman, was not. I felt uncomfortable when I started shooting for the film because it needed so much faith, trust and devotion. When I signed Manikarnika, my first thought was ‘How come nobody has done a film on Rani Laxmi Bai yet?’ So, I consider it a sheer stroke of luck that I am doing it. We have also tried to keep the history as precise as possible.”
She added, “The film speaks about patriotism and touches upon the sentiments of being a true patriot. Of late, we have been exploring the physical nature of love in films, but with Manikarnika, we went beyond the usual angle — love between two individuals.”
Speaking about the action sequences in the film, Kangana elaborated, “I was quite fragile when I came on board. I was weighing 50 pounds and never looked like a warrior. In the beginning, in fact, I couldn’t rehearse the action sequences for more than 30 minutes. Then, I had to gain stamina to look convincing. Gradually, I started gaining weight and within 10 to 12 hours of every practice, I managed to pull off some interesting movements. The journey involving sword fighting and horse-riding transported me into a different world altogether.”
When asked about her directorial stint, she said, “As an actor, one can be little relaxed on the sets, but it’s not the case with the director. I had to keep an eye on the make-up and also overlook the directorial responsibilities. I spent more time on pre-production. Shooting, per se, wasn’t all that difficult. But the prep works, definitely, were. The role has made me stronger as a person and helped me to grow from inside.”
Can we see Kangana do another biopic? “I aspire to make a film, which would be the mother of all epics, say, that takes you somewhere 10,000 years back in time, but I am not revealing it now,” she concluded.
Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, has been penned by K.V. Vijayendra Prasad, who has also written films like Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Baahubali and Mersal.