When it comes to movies inspired by true events, there is certainly something extraordinary about the characters that convinces the movie crew to invest their time and money on it. Whether it’s with a motive to credit the real life characters, or by the motive of making some money out of it, there’s certainly something different and something special that drives them to make the decision. The movie Manikarnika, is a similar effort to portray the real life Manikarnika, aka the Queen of Jhansi.
Rani Lakshi Bai was the queen of Jhansi from around 21 November 1853 to 10 March 1854, but whats up with Manikarnika, how did that name came to her ? Actually its the other way if you think about it.
The Real Life Manikarnika Tambe
Queen LakshmiBai was born as Manikarnika Tambe on 19 November 1828 to Moropant Tambe and mother Bagirath Sapre. She was born in the town of Varanasi into a Marathi Karhade Brahmin family. Her name by birth was Manikarnika, but she was called Manu. Her parents originated from Maharashtra.
She faced an early grief on her life when her mother died when she was only 4 years old. Her father was the Commander of the war of Kalyanpranth. Moropant Tambe worked for Peshwa Baji Rao and Manikarnika was very popular in the Peshwa. They called her “Chhabili”, which means playful. She was educated at home, like all other people around that time. Although it was very rare for women to get education, her father Moropant made sure she was able to read and write, which played a great role later as her reign as the Queen of Jhansi.
She was an more independent in her childhood as compared to other child of her age, may be her mother’s early demise made her self dependent because her father was the war Commander which made her more independent than others. Usually, back then, the wives took care of the family while the husband were involved in war related activities.
At her childhood, she was actively interested in shooting, horsemanship, fencing and was mostly involved in hunting with her childhood friends Nana Sahib and Tatya Tope, which was a contradictory gesture for women in Indiana society at her time. This made her stand out as an Indian women at her time.
From Manikarnika to LakshmiBai
Manikarnika was married to the Kind of Jhansi, Gangadhar Rao Newalkar in 1842, at an early age of 14 years old. She was called Lakshmibai after her marriage in honor of Hind Goddess Lakshmi. According to the tradition in Maharashtra, women are given a new name after their marriage. This is how the real life Manikarnika was called Lakshmibai.
Nine years after her marriage to the Maharaja (King) of Jhansi, Lakshmibai gave birth to a son in 1851 at the age of 23 years old. Their son was Damodar Rao, who unfortunately died four months after his birth. Later, King Gangadhar and Queen Lakshmibai adopted Anand Rao, who was son of King Gangadhar. Later they renamed him to Damodar Rao, in memory of their demised son. The rename took place just one day before king’s death. The adoptation took place in front of the British political officer as an evidence, and was given a letter from Maharajan, which asked to treat the child with respect. Along with that, included in the the letter was King’s wish that the governance of Jhansi should be given to his widow for her lifetime after his death.
Soon after the king died of illness in 21 November 1853, at the age of 56, British East India company rejected Damodor’s claim to the throne as he was adopted and applied the Doctrine of Lapse where the state was annexed to its territories. Later Lakshmibai revolted against the British because they did things against the late king’s will.
The Rebellion and Siege of Jhansi
The Indian rebellion started in Meerut on 19 May, 1857. Until then, Jhansi was in peace under Rani’s rule. The British, however announced that the troops would be sent there to seige Jgansi and maintain control. The British forces arrived late in March, Manikarnika, the Lakshmibai strengthened her position with the help of her advisers and allied with people who wanted indepencence from British rule.
When the British finally arrived, they found that the fort had heavy weapons and was well defended. The British, under the command of Hugh Rose demanded the surrender of the city and threatened that it would be destroyed if they refused the surrender. However, the Queen of Jhansi proclaimed, “We fight for independence. In the words of Lord Krishna, we will if we are victorious, enjoy the fruits of victory, if defeated and killed on the field of battle, we shall surely earn eternal glory and salvation.”
She did not give up and defended her Jhansi, however Sir Hugh Rose surrounded Jhansi on 23 March, 1858. The bombardment began on the next day, however it was met by heavy defense and return fire. However, later the British were able to break the defense wall and they looked for the queen in every street and in every room in the palace, but the Rani withdrew from the palace and joined the fort.
It was said, she put Damodar Rao on her back, jumped to the horse, which was named Badal and escaped from the fort later. It is believed that her horse died but both Rani and her son Damodar survived. She decamped to Kalpi with few guards, which was again attacked by British. Kalpi fought back under Rani’s command, but she was defeated again.
The Demise of Manikarnika
The brave, iconic Indian figure died on 18 June 1858 at the age of 29. She died when the large Indian force, commanded by Rani Lakshibai, came head to head with King Royal Irish Hussars’ squad when they slaughtered more than 5000 Indian soldiers. Rani fought right till her last death, she was unhorsed, wounded, but continued fighting.
The Queen, badly wounded, dressed according to the tradition as a cavalry leader, did not wish her body to be captured by British. After her death, few local people cremated her body.
The British captured the city of Gwalior, despite of Queen’s bravery. According to David Saul’s 2003 book, “The Indian Mutiny”, Hugh Rose commented that Rani Lakshmibai is “personable, clever and beautiful” and she is “the most dangerous of all Indian leaders”.
The movie Manikarnika
Manikarnika was a 2019 movie directed by Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi and Kangana Ranaut that portrays the story of real life Manikarnika, the Queen of Jhansi. Jishu Sengupta is seen as the Maharaja of Jhansi, while Kangana Ranaut acts as Manikarnika.
The budget of the movie is around $16M, and it grossed around $20M worldwide, making its appearances in more than 3200 screens around 50 countries worldwide.
The Reel Life and Real Life Manikarnika Similarities
The real life Manikarnika was a fighter, brave warrior who fought for her Jhansi and never gave up. Meanwhile, the reel life Manikarnika, as Kangana Ranaut played the role of the Queen of Jhansi, is also considered as a brave, iconic figure in the Indian film story. She has stood up against and rebelled against the Nepotism in the Indian film industry.
She is a hardworking and devoted in the movie, however she has been included in different controversies, including few regarding the movie Manikarnika itself.
She tweeted her picture from her first day of shooting for the movie, where she was actually hurt by the sword.
The reel life Manikarnika, aka Kangana Ranaut is a Himalchal Pradesh born, self made Bollywood actress. She was born on 23 March 1987 in Bhambla of the Mandi District in Himachal Pradesh,India. Bhambla is a place which is near to Manali.
She debuted in the Bollywood industry with ‘I Love You Boss’ and has nerver looked back. She has starred in movies like Gangster, Kites, Queen, etc.