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Manikarnika – The Queen of Jhansi movie review: Kangana Ranaut’s period drama is a visual treat, but not that impressive!

Read our movie review of Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi starring Kangana Ranaut, Ankita Lokhande and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub

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When the set is magnum, costumes are superb, jewellery is exquisite and the action is thrilling then well done art department. But what about the problems evident with your lead actress! It’s a film where everyone around the protagonist seems to have transferred themselves into the era, but not the protagonist herself. Being someone who loves period cinema, I went in to forget the reality and enter the 1800’s, but if Kangana herself is not invested how will I as a member of audience. The film has been in headlines since a year and the hard work is visible in terms of visuals.

What’s it about? Based on the Queen of Jhansi, Rani Lakshmibai, the film traces the life of Manikarnika from her birth to her getting married, then becoming the queen and dying in the battlefield for the country. Played by Kangana Ranaut, the film is a brief account of the valour of Rani Lakshmibai from her perspective. The film talks about the Indian Rebellion of 1857 – led by Lakshmibai and is known as the first war of independence – in detail.

The film begins with Amitabh Bachchan’s voiceover and is appealing. It sets the base right without wasting any time that Manikarnika is courageous, brave and at the same time very soft hearted and caring. She gets married to the king of Jhansi, gives birth to a son who dies in infancy. Later even the king dies after a prolonged illness just after adopting his cousin’s son. Finally, Rani Lakshmibai holds her ground, refusing to give up Jhansi and in a bid to save her kingdom, enters the battlefield against the British. After a bloody war, the queen dies the most glorious death on the battlefield.

Yay: The art department has taken Sanjay Leela Bhansali (SLB) level of efforts in bringing together the sets, clothes, jewellery and they deserve all the appreciation for their efforts. There are resemblances and several of those, so no choice but I had to compare it with SLB films. The story is based on a historic figure so no questioning there. The sequence where Manikarnika breaks the stigma around widows by not accepting the age-old practise is executed well which adds one more layer to her character.

There are montages of an army of women being formed and seeing them prepare for war is visually fulfilling. The bravest thing that the makers choose to show was the personality of the King of Jhansi, Gangadhar Rao Newalkar – he enjoyed art and wasn’t aggressive or violent. Brownie points for that. In terms of acting, the supporting cast is stronger, Danny Denzongpa, Atul Kulkarni, Richard Keep and most others got their roles right.

Nay: This section, my fellow readers read with popcorn. Now, you have got everything right but Kangana, around whom the screenplay revolves doesn’t look authentic. For a queen, her body language is not on point. Even her dialect for that matter, she sounds like well, Kangana Ranaut and not Manikarnika. Also somewhere in between she speaks Hindi in an English accent, why? It looks like in the urgency to gather everything else the makers forgot to work on the main character. However beautiful you decorate the setup but it is the character that will connect me with it. Plus you replicate scenes from a film that is not way back, you yourself invite comparisons. Remember in Bajirao Mastani, Ranveer climbing on the elephant? SAME. When it is a period film, the dialogues have to grab the audience, but here they don’t. Also someone should explain why two Englishmen talk in Hindi. And that too using difficult Hindi idioms, like Use asmaan kha gaya ya dharti nigal gayi.

Getting into technical details, I won’t endorse the cinematography at all. When you have created such huge sets, why not shoot them in wide angles and show the glory, the camera is majority of times very close to the characters with less breathing space. I understand the technique of allowing audience to get into the character but then they also want the ambience. There is also a celebration song which features Ankita Lokhande dancing and by the end Kangana starts dancing breaking the character completely. The dance style I bet wasn’t any folk dance but looked choreographed by the actors themselves. There is no time frame to this by the way, we don’t know at what age she gets married or how long the king was alive after their marriage and even no mention of the battle year. Also, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub needs to reconsider his choices in roles, this is the third time I saw him doing a character that is not worthy of him.

Cine Blitz Verdict: The start is promising but what follows just lost my interest. Only the setup is not the win, you also need to focus on many other things is what the makers must realise. Also, this was partially Kangana’s directorial debut and we are not impressed. Maybe some people will like the film due to the story of one of the bravest woman in the Indian history, but as someone who knows cinema will be let down by the lack of authentication and minute detailing. Go in to appreciate the art department, but don’t expect anything more.

Rating: 2 stars

Movie Reviews

Total Dhamaal review: Ajay Devgn, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Anil Kapoor make it worth the paisa!

Total Dhamaal review: Is Ajay Devgn, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Anil Kapoor’s comic caper worth your money? Find out here…

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Total Dhamaal review Ajay Devgn - Madhuri Dixit - Anil Kapoor steal the show

Total Dhamaal brings both – good news and bad news for the fans of the Dhamaal franchise. The bad news is that if you were expecting the third installment in the Dhamaal franchise to be as good as the first, then let us be very clear, it is not. However, the good news is that Total Dhamaal inspite of its shortcomings is way better than Double Dhamaal. With the cast that director Indra Kumar had put together, one had expected it to be a complete laugh riot, but it is not. Most of the actors in this ensemble cast are known for their comic timing. Yet – Ajay Devgn, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Anil Kapoor, Sanjay Mishra, Johnny Lever, Riteish Deshmukh, Boman Irani, Arshad Warsi, Jaaved Jafferi – together fail to lift the movie.

To call Total Dhamaal a must-watch comedy or a total paisa vasool is wrong! It is paisa vasool, but not total paisa vasool, if you get what we are trying to say. The director seems to have sat with a checklist with all funny things. Instead of concentrating on the quality, he has worked more on making sure that the funny things find a way into the film. So from toilet humour to WhatsApp forwards and from domestic humour to silly characters, every ingredient has been added to this comical serving. If that wasn’t enough, there’s a character representing all communities. From a Gujarati to Maharashtrian, a Bengali, to a North Indian, Total Dhamaal has very diverse characters! And let’s not forget there are the animals too.

What is Total Dhamaal about? Ajay Devgn and Sanjay Mishra steal Rs 50 crore from a corrupt police commissioner, played by Boman Irani. They are however double-crossed by Manoj Pahwa, who hides the money in a Janakpur Zoo. Manoj meets with an accident, but before dying he reveals the location to four pairs – including Ajay and Sanjay. The four pairs are complete strangers, but their greed for money sets them on a crazy treasure hunt. The film establishes early on who these four pairs are. There’s Ajay-Sanjay, then there’s Madhuri and Anil, a couple on the brink of divorce. Riteish and Pitobash are corrupt firefighters, while Jaaved and Arshad are on the lookout for a job. The crazy adventure that they set out on is what the film is all about.

Yay: Madhuri and Anil’s chemistry gets our thumbs up. Madhuri lights up the frame each time she appears on screen. Her comic timing is still as perfect as always. She breathes life into the most dull dialogues and salvages Total Dhamaal from being a complete wash-out. Anil ably supports her in this. Jackie Shroff’s ‘Chindi’ voice-over also brings about a few laughs. Ajay sticks to his swagger more than comedy and the director smartly makes it work for his character. Johnny Lever is his usual comical self, though this is not his best. Jaaved and Arshad are the ones who are consistently funny.

Nay: Total Dhamaal falters on several levels. A major drawback is the background score and the additional comical sounds added for effect. It’s a pity that the audience’s intelligence is so under-rated that they will need a sound to make them laugh. But then perhaps the makers were trying to fill in for the lack of punch in the dialogues. The last 20 minutes are when you actually realise that the film does have a dialogue-writer. But that’s a sputtering few lines! The dialogues do not do justice to any of the actors and they clearly don’t get to show their comic side to their full potential.

CineBlitz verdict: This one is a clean comedy that kids are likely to enjoy, thanks to the animals and Jaaved Jaaferi. Madhuri and Anil fans won’t be disappointed. The film tilts a bit towards entertaining than the borderline entertaining mark. So, if you are a Dhamaal fan and don’t mind their brand of humour, then Total Dhamaal might not be a totally bad idea.

Star rating: 2 stars

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Movie Reviews

Total Dhamaal review: Ajay Devgn, Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit-Nene’s comic caper is hilarious, reveal movie-goers

Total Dhamaal review: Ajay Devgn, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Anil Kapoor make the audience fall in love with the movie

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Total Dhamaal public review: Fans love Ajay Devgn, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Anil Kapoor's comic caper

Ajay Devgn, Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Arshad Warsi, Riteish Deshmukh’s Total Dhamaal has finally hit the screens. And looks like it has started off with a bang! Not only is the occupancy in the morning shows good, the response it is receiving from the movie-goers is also fantastic. People are loving the third installment of the hit comic franchise. Social media is full of praises for the movie and its cast. In fact, the audience cannot stop gushing about Total Dhamaal, especially Madhuri Dixit-Nene. All the fans have been raving about the actress, her beauty and her on screen presence.

Movie-goers are even happy to see Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit-Nene on the big screen after so many years. Ajay Devgn’s swag is being loved, while Riteish Deshmukh is being praised for his comic timing. The movie is very hilarious, according to the fans. In fact, one movie-goer even mentioned how everyone in her cinema hall was laughing hard throughout the first half. Total Dhamaal is truly a family entertainer, a laugh riot and mind-blowing, reveal people who saw the first day first show of the movie. Check out what everyone had to say about the Indra Kumar directorial right here!

Our reviewer – Aakanksha Naval-Shetye has also mentioned how Ajay Devgn, Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit-Nene are a delight in the movie. Clearly, this family entertainer is impressing one and all. With the film taking a wonderful start and getting such positive reviews, we are sure it will do well. In fact, Akshaye Rathi (exhibitor and distributor) predicts that Total Dhamaal will earn Rs 14 crore on day 1 at the domestic box office. In the meantime, share with us your review of the movie in the comments section below! Also stay tuned to CineBlitz as we get you all the news and updates about Total Dhamaal right here.

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Movie Reviews

Total Dhamaal review: Ajay Devgn, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Anil Kapoor steal the show in the first half

Total Dhamaal review: Ajay Devgn, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Anil Kapoor, Arshad Warsi, Jaaved Jaaferi are the highlights till the interval

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Total Dhamaal review Ajay Devgn - Madhuri Dixit - Anil Kapoor steal the show

After Dhamaal and Double Dhamaal, Indra Kumar is back with the third installment of the hit comic franchise. Total Dhamaal stars Ajay Devgn, Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixir-Nene, Arshad Warsi, Sanjay Mishra, Riteish Deshmukh, Jaaved Jafferi, amongst others. The film has just released. But what does our reviewer, Aakanksha Naval-Shetye, has to say about the movie? The first half of Total Dhamaal is just over, and she reveals to us, “The film kick-starts with the peppy track Paisa Yeh Paisa and the first few scenes set the pace of the film. Ajay Devgn and Sanjay Mishra steal Rs 50 core from the corrupt police commissioner played by Boman Irani. They escape unscathed by jumping down a 16- storey hotel building. After testing if you can digest this, the director decides to test you further.”

Aakanksha further adds, “Talking about performances, Ajay and Sanjay are clearly the ones doing action comedy. Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit indulge us with WhatsApp jokes revolving around domestic warring husband and wife. Arshad Warsi and Jaaved Jaaferi are genuinely funny and they draw some laughs in Total Dhamaal. Ajay’s swag works, but Sanjay struggles to keep the comic pace going. An ill timed Mungda doesn’t help things either. Madhuri, however infuses her natural comic timing and is a saving grace so far. But, Riteish Deshmukh and Pitobash are a let down.”

“The four pairs cross path in trying to reach a bag with Rs 50 crores in it. Chased by Boman, the race to the Janakpur Zoo, where the money has been hidden begins. What follows is an assault on your senses! To say the Total Dhamaal is loud is an understatement. But you would expect more comed, right? However, the film evokes laughter only in inconsistent parts.  The actors struggle to salvage the not so funny dialogues relying more on their own performances. The jarring background music and forced comic sounds worsen matters,” adds our reviewer.

Summing up the first half, Aakanksha mentions, “So far the laughs have come too far and few to live up to the brand. And have been predictable. Johnny lever as a helicopter pilot manages to add to the comedy. None of the animals have made an entry yet so hoping that will put the film in an upswing.” Stay tuned to CineBlitz for the full Total Dhamaal review.

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