Not a rousing number though Kangana shows her skill with swords

After a rather disappointing teaser, the makers of Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi came up with an improved trailer.

Today, the producers launched the music of Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi amidst fanfare with the cast, composers and lyricist in attendance.

The first song unveiled was ‘Vijayi Bhava’, Sanskrit for ‘may victory be yours’. With Prasoon Joshi writing the lyrics, expectations were high. Unfortunately, ‘Vijayi Bhava’ does not meet those expectations.

As the troops and the people rally behind their queen, Joshi has the skies chanting ‘Vijayi Bhava’, metaphorically. The song has some fine lines, but somehow the whole doesn’t create the desired effect.

A war cry ought to give one goosebumps, get the adrenaline pumping, but that’s not the case with ‘Vijayi Bhava’. The lyrics come across as half-baked. The same can be said for the music by the usually reliable trio of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy.

One doesn’t know how strong the concept of one India was in the 18th century, with most rulers battling simply to save their own fiefs. In fact, Manikarnika’s husband, raja Gangadharrao Newalkar, initially agreed to give up his rights in return for security from the British. It was only when they betrayed him that Manikarnika decided to take up arms. So the use of the term watan, which means nation, seems a little overstated.

The music is not banal, but it is not captivating either. If Manikarnika and her kingdom hated the British, why use the piano, created by Italian maker Bartolomeo Cristofori but introduced in India by the British?

Similarly, when the Indian classical notes are playing, we have visuals of the British! If one observes carefully, there is a slight jump cut between 1:08 and 1:09 where Kangana moves abruptly while practising her swordplay.

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The first half of the track does not have a gripping score, but the song picks up tempo in the antara when the character played by Danny Denzongpa appears.

The Indian instruments, the mridang in particular, lift the mood of the track. More than lead singer Shankar Mahadevan, it is chorus artistes Prajakta Shukre, Shrinidhi Ghatate, Ravi Mishra, Mani Mahadevan and Mohammed Arshad who help to lift the mood. Shankar, too, joins in the chorus.

But it is strange to see Denzongpa and another actor briefly lip-synching to female voices. Is the video editor to be blamed or did the folly occur while mixing?

The intro lyrics define what Manikarnika and her kingdom are facing with the British eyeing their territory, so Shankar’s tone matches the grim mood in the kingdom. The antara, though, is all about lifting the spirits, preparing for battle with a smile on their faces. Shankar accordingly lifts his mood and tone in the final verse.

While the song doesn’t have a great beginning, the music and the singing in the latter part do rescue ‘Vijayi Bhava’ to an extent.

With Ranaut at the helm, it’s hard to look beyond her. She showcases her sword-fighting skills but does appear to be moving a bit languidly, probably enjoying the act which she performs for the first time on screen. Fans will be hoping she shows a bit more urgency at the business end in the film.

Watch the ‘Vijayi Bhava’ song below.

Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi is set to be released on 25 January. Let us know if you are keen to watch the film in the theatres.

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