The Warrior Queen of Jhansi
The Warrior Queen of Jhansi is a glossy historical drama telling the story of Indian queen, freedom fighter and feminist icon Rani of Jhansi. On receiving a string of threats from East India Company officials, Rani Lakshmi Bai (Devika Bhise) must gather and train an army to protect their kingdom from annexation by the powerful British Empire.
The narrative shifts back and forth between the UK and India, illuminating the strategies employed by the two camps, and inadvertently diminishing the momentous impact that Lakshmi and her soldiers undoubtedly had in shaping India’s future. Swati Bhise’s screenplay, co-written by Devika Bhise, has been thoroughly researched – and it shows – but problems arise in the dialogue (especially from members of the English camp), which is delivered more like a recital of historical facts than conversation.
There is a lot of skimming over the surface when it comes to the plot, a lot of ground-covering and not enough depth. In one scene in particular, Rani astounds her peers when she rejects the patriarchal custom of a woman having to shave her head on becoming a widow; there is an inkling of her feminism, and the next moment she is on the battleground in action. A more subtle build-up, allowing a natural unveiling of Rani’s personality, would have enabled her bravery, strength and determination to flourish convincingly, and viewers might have become more invested.
Narrative aside, The Warrior Queen of Jhansi scores top points with its costume and production design, and the locations all look credible. Bhise delivers a noteworthy performance and an authentic portrayal of Rani of Jhansi, though her impact is hindered by a flimsy backstory.
The Warrior Queen of Jhansi is released digitally on demand on 14th December 2020.
Watch the trailer for The Warrior Queen of Jhansi here: