Telugu filmmaker Krish has broken his silence on the making of Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, which was released on January 25. The biopic of Rani Lakshmibai stars Kangana Ranaut. Krish was originally the solo director on the project until Ranaut took over at some point in the production. The final film is credited to Ranaut and Krish, who is referred to by his full name Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi, and Ranaut has been given top billing over Krish.
In an interview to the website Spotboye, Krish pointed out that he doesn’t use his full name as a professional credit. Krish provided his version of what went on behind the scenes of the co-production between Kamal Jain, Kairos Kontent and Zee Studios. Krish told Spotboye that Ranaut had reworked nearly 25% of the first half and nearly 15% of the post-interval sections. “…Rani Laxmibai’s counterparts are not strong,” Krish told the website. “They haven’t come out very well.”
Scenes featuring Atul Kulkarni as Tatya Tope and Prajakta Mali as Lakshmibai’s aide Kashibai have been cut down, Krish claimed. The film’s closing battlefield sequence, which Krish described as “brilliant”, largely remains the same except for the addition of a few shots.
Krish had completed the film’s edit in June 2018 itself, in anticipation of an August 15 release, he stated. The director was also working on a two-part Telugu biopic on NT Rama Rao at the time. The first chapter, NTR Kathanayakudu, was released on January 9.
“I had completed all the reels and even given them for sound recording,” Krish told Spotboye. “Everybody even dubbed but not Kangana. She was shooting for Mental [the movie Mental Hai Kya] in London.”
After Ranaut watched the first cut, she said she had a few concerns, which later expanded to a longer list of complaints over Krish’s direction, he told Spotboye. Additional scenes were shot, the editor was replaced, and some sequences were re-recorded, Krish claimed.
One of the sticking points was the length of the role of Sadashiv Rao, a nobleman who plots against Lakshmibai. Sonu Sood was initially cast as Sadashiv Rao, and was replaced by Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub after he left the production.
Ranaut wanted to kill off Sadashiv Rao’s character by the interval, Krish revealed. “This was completely against history,” he told Spotboye. “Sonu was playing an important antagonist, he had a beautiful arc in the story and we had shot with him beautifully for 35 days….She [Ranaut] said Sonu is not required in the second half. But I put my foot down. Big arguments followed.”
Krish denied Ranaut’s allegation that Sood quit because he refused to work under a female director. “What she said was untrue,” Krish said. “I don’t blame Sonu for quitting. His run time was 100 minutes and it was being chopped to 60 minutes. Who will agree? Nobody would.”
While Ranaut didn’t give herself too many additional scenes in the movie, her meddling ensured that “everything was hotch-potch”, Krish told Spotboye. The National Film Award-winning actress isn’t insecure but simply “wanted everything to herself”, the filmmaker added. Ranaut reportedly told Krish that his version looked like a low-budget “Bhojpuri film”. He added, “She is rude all the time.”