Kangana Ranaut is one woman who does not shy away from any challenges. She proved it yet again when the director of the film Manikarnika, Krish (Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi) abandoned the project and took off to shoot a biopic on NTR. Left with no other option Kangana decided to take the onus of completing the project. The leading lady has been leaving no stones unturned to make sure the movie lives up to the hype and also is completed in its stipulated time.
However, managing the same has not been an easy job. “I am sleep deprived, but then, this is a biopic of Rani Lakshmibai. It won’t be worth it, without blood, sweat, tears and toil..”, says Kangana.
From the teaser we already have an idea that the action sequences will be a treat to watch. Talking about working with Nick Powell on the action sequences, Kangana said, “I am a mischief maker. We hatched this ploy to keep Nick Powell [action director] here. He was to go to Bulgaria and was willing to commit dates to us only after six months. We have taken away his passport”, she said jokingly.
Kiran Deohans, who is the cinematographer that took over the schedule after she came on board, says, “She doesn’t function like a first timer. She knows exactly what she wants and it has been a smooth ride”. Deohans, who is known for his work in Jodhaa Akbar (2008), seems to have a very good wavelength with Kangana.
The Queen actress has carved a niche for herself and is known as one of the finest actress that we have in Bollywood. For her to give up her comfort zone and get in to the role of the director was not an easy task but she did for the love of the craft. Kangana shares, “To be an actor is a privileged job. It’s about blowing kisses to the crowd, sitting pretty and never getting into the grime. Most artistes are in the industry for the wrong reasons, the fame and money. I want to believe I am here for the love of the craft. So, no matter how exhausting this is, I am enjoying every bit of it.”
When broached on the topic of taking credit, she dismissed it saying, “When male actors take the onus of their films, do they demand credit? Then why is it made to look like I am hijacking a project? I am doing what is in the best interest of a film that rides on me. It will be a landmark moment in Hindi cinema when this film does well. Producers will invest big bucks in movies headlined by women. This isn’t about seeing my name as a director.”
Had Kangana not stepped into the director’s role there is a big chance that this movie may not have seen the light of the day. Commenting on the same, Kangana says, “The idea of putting out a film that doesn’t live up to its name scared me more. The reworking was crucial. After the studio saw the film, there was a good chance Manikarnika wouldn’t have seen the light of day. There were glaring discrepancies in the plot line. Directing this film isn’t difficult. Vijayendra Sir [KV Vijayendra Prasad, the writer] has written an impactful script; Kiran sir has set the shot beautifully, I am just going by the written word.”
Ask her about the technique she has been using, Kangana says, “Every actor should be able to bring their own to the table. To tell them how to do their job is insulting them. The director has to just ensure everything he/she is filming must be in sync with the larger picture; anything beyond is overstepping.”
How do you direct yourself? “Oh, that’s tough because of the nature of this film. Running to the monitor after every scene in heavy clothes is exhausting.”
Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi is being produced by Zee Studios and Kamal Jain. The movie also stars Ankita Lokhande, Jisshu Sengupta, Zeeshan Ayyub, Danny Dengzongpa, Atul Kulkarni and Taher Shabbir in pivotal roles and will be releasing on January 25.