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All the pageanty...the orgies...the blood-battles of a spectacular century...flame across the screen!
Jhansi Ki Rani (1953) (English: The Tiger and The Flame) is an Indian historical drama movie based on the life of Lakshmi Bai, the Rani of Jhansi, one of the leading figures of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. It still is considered to be the best and most authentic movie produced till date on the subject.
The film is based on the life history of Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi, who was one of the first Indians to rebel against the British Government. Rani Lakshmibai finds a prominent mention in history textbooks of India but Sohrab Modi's film takes an in-depth look on the entire biography of the queen from her childhood to her death.
Sohrab Modi took the effort to keep his film's screenplay (penned by half a dozen writers) historically accurate and comprehensive and yet entertaining. The film opens with the queen's childhood when she was known as Manu and had the courage to face an elephant. When the chief adviser of Jhansi, Rajguru (Sohrab Modi) sees her valour, he asks Manu's father Moropant to get her married to the much-elder King of Jhansi, Gangadhar Rao (Mubarak). So the 9-year-old Manu is married off to the 50-year-old Gangadhar. Trained under Rajguru, Manu grows up to be Lakshmibai (Mehtab), the Rani of Jhansi who is proficient at all physical and political challenges. (Ironically, in real life Mehtab was married to Sohrab Modi who was elder to her by 20 years).
Lakshmibai has a son from Gangadhar Rao who soon succumbs to illness after which the couple adopts a boy Damodar Rao to be the heir of Jhansi. But the British East India Company rejects the adopted Damodar Rao as the claimant to the throne of Jhansi and wants to seize the kingdom. That results into conflict between the Queen and British resulting into rebellion that led to the First War of Indian Independence in 1957.
Sohrab Modi came from the stage background which reflected pretty much in his film. The drama induced through the heavy-worded dialogues was intense and the performances were very theatrical. There was no compromise to get the period look of the film perfect (real foreign actors played the British characters) and the magnificence showed in every frame. As the film nearly perfected in getting the 'costume' era feel and dense 'drama' effect, Jhansi Ki Rani aptly justified its genre of 'costume drama'.
For this movie, Sohrab Modi had technicians flown in from Hollywood. The film was notable for its authenticity in creating the right period and delineating historic events. Its spectacular battle scenes and Mehtab's stirring performance is cherished even in the current times.
Starring Mehtab, Sohrab Modi, Mubarak, Ulhas and Sapru
Directed by : Sohrab Modi
Produced by : Sohrab Modi
Music by : Vasant Desai
Lyrics by : Pt. Radheshyam
A Minerva Movietone Presentation