18 thoughts on “Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi Is Not “The Warrior Queen of Jhansi”

  1. You see the reason that us Indians don’t have many textual or pictorial sources is because the British either stole them or they have been destroyed.So it’s only recently that Indians have started taking an active interest in historical fashion. You should try out Mughal-e-Azam. It’s a Bollywood classic and the costumes are absolutely gorgeous. That entire movie is just a visual feast and provides some really interesting interpretations of Mughal era fashions.I really enjoyed the review and would love to see more non-western content.

    1. I watched Mughal e Azam,but noped out with the theatrical acting,actually inaccurate story and inaccurate sets.But seriously,how gorgeous Madhubala looked as Anarkali.

      1. My Nani made me watch that film as a child so I really like it. I doubt it will hold to my memory though.Btw what are your thoughts on Lagaan? I think the costuming is certainly more accurate and it also captures the social trends of the era better.

        1. Lagaan was certainly very good,and I loved what it showed of the relations between Indians and British.I loved it did not overdo the oppressed natives and wicked colonizers trope.The involvement of the White lady was beautifully handled.Ashutosh Gowarikar was at the top of his game in 2000s,don’t know what went wrong in 2010s.Btw I don’t think the costumes in Lagaan fared any better.The story was the star there.
          Um,you watched MEA,so I guess you watched Pakeekah too?That movie suffers a bit in the second half,but watching Meena Kumari croon her swan song in what is perhaps the most beautifully picturized ode to the bygone era carries the same enthusiasm as watching the titanic wreck,and the positives balance the unevenness for me.Those songs,costumes,cinematography,set design,poetic elegance,and Meena,uff,why did she have to leave so soon.Chalte Chalte leaves me breathless every time.I thought the train was the hero there,not Raaj Kumar.

          1. Rachel Shelley was decent in Lagaan–but oh, those dresses she wears in O Re Chori! :D

  2. I have a stupid quip but, Lakshmibai’s eyelashes…. I just wanted them to be either on or off. They distracted me lol

  3. Oh goodness!I really didn’t expect FF to review this.I saw the movie on tv and well,I was underwhelmed.Ranaut is one of the,if not THE best marketable actresses in Bollywood.Her acting is really admirable,sometimes creepily glorious,but her diction is so horrible that I like,no,love-love-LOVE to watch her on mute.
    By the way,the costumes are certainly too blinged up than they would have been.The somber looks of the latter half actually suit the historically aesthetic more and even the hairstyles are more accurate there.But the sort of embroidery on Manikarnika’s sarees is something seen on Rajasthani lehengas.Marathi sarees actually were more about flat fabrics with broad tinsel woven plain borders.We can excuse that royals might have worn imported luxuries,but I doubt that would have been the case with the identity conscious Marathas.One nice detail was King Gangadhar Rao wearing angrakhas tailored in European style to show his subservience.Jamas are actually Mughal garments.They look similar to angrakhas but differ in way of fastening.The hair in the first half was wrong,wrong,wrong.It should have been up,braided in the back and held together by a golden comb.That image of dancing maratha girls is exactly that-tawaif or baiji,not royals hence nothing to do with the movie.And that jewellery is accurate but too modern in its details,sleeknes and all.I have seen museum pieces and they might have been worn out,but nothing can convince me that a disc used to be a filigree.
    The movie is set in a very interesting era but failed to explore the conditions of the time.The grievances of Indians were portrayed as what have been shown on countless media portrayals(I would not have been bothered if they decided to borrow footage from another production)and caricaturized Britishers.The songs were actually not required here.But I lost my patience with “dankila”.
    The movie that comes closest to capturing that era is Satyajit Ray’s “Shatranj ke Khilari”.Impeccable costumes,gorgeous production values,gripping story(it is actually a comedy!sort of)and insight into what eventually led to the 1857 War of Independence.It actually tackles so many sections of the society and does not caricaturise British at all.They are more like corrupt aristocrats that came to India,took to its lifestyle and seized it to our misfortune and their fortune.It captures the pageantry of the bygone age of awadh that modern Bollywood cannot imagine to conceptualise through its cheap,ostentatiously mounted but meaningless musical(that stays on ears and never seeps to the soul)numbers.Even Muzaffar Ali’s Umrao Jaan(1981) did quite good with this era.I liked how it focussed less on Ameeran’s romantic failures and more of her poetic endeavours and financial troubles following the decline of royal patronage.Now,this movie had some real music.But the camera quality in outdoor scenes is sooooooooo crappy,it distracts from Rekha’s mesmerising performance.

  4. Thanks for the much-needed giggle, Kendra! I literally did a facepalm when I saw some of those British costumes.

  5. Enjoyed reading this and will look forward to finding it on a streaming service.

  6. I know little about East Indian jewelry, which makes me want to take a closer look at the pieces in the movie. Are the gems mostly cabochons, are they non calibrated sizes what does the back of the jewelry look like, etc.

    1. I’ve read some books on Indian jewelry and seen some in museums. Diamonds were faceted but the other gems like sapphires, rubies & emeralds were cabochons. The backs would be enameled with designs or engraved. The backs had to be as impressive as the fronts; you could wear them either way (this applies to necklaces & pendants).

  7. I don’t know anything about the accuracy of the saris but I absolutely love the green one.

  8. It seems to me, that the movie just is not thought for the European market. Many pictures show that this was not a low budget production. But I have the Impression, that they just didn’t care about how stupid the British would look.

    I saw some similar stuff before. If the movies are co-produced (UK + India for example) then they are looking OK. I think that they just had their own taste.

  9. I actually love the symmetrical balance of a movie where the British people’s costumes are sort of “Meh, who cares what they wear they’re just colonialists” it makes up in some degree for all the movies where an indigenous people’s clothing is treated with the same WTFery!

  10. I think this is tit for tat for years Indian culture depicted as so called “Exotic” and Weird in western movies without any logical context or research like in the Indiana Jones and James Bond movies and now we have repaid the Goras (whites) with their same currency.

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