We know about Joan of Arc and Harriet Tubman, but did you know that there was an all female regiment of Indian Freedom Fighters? Yup…that’s true and they were lead by a fearless Warrior Queen of Jhansi – Queen Rani. Freedom fighter Rani shifted the balance of power by leading a rebellion against the British Empire in 1857 India. For many Indians, the story of the Rani of Jhansi is legendary.
Lakshmibai (Queen Rani) was still in her early 20s when she led a rebellion against the East India Company in 1857 — an event now known as the first Indian War of Independence. Directed and written by Swati Bhise and her daughter Devika Bhise, The Warrior Queen of Jhansi illustrates how Queen Rani shifted the archaic ideologies and traditions of her people by refusing to shave her head and train women to fight not equally, but better than men. Not to mention the fact that women during this time were disregarded as individuals with power and brains. They were disrespected, dishonored and treated as only a means to bear children as an heir.
This film is great for those reasons and for bringing to light the unjust manner in which the British regime treated Indians as ‘these people.’ However, it’s pacing lags, with overly long fighting sequences and speeches making it difficult to stay exuberant about its subject – Queen Rani.
Devika Bhise in the title role is spectacular. She’s doing her own stunts with swords, bareback riding and speaking often times in the language of the era. Bhise’s screenplay (along with her Mom – Swati) shows Rani was a mother, daughter, sister and friend making her more than a woman, but an idea. At the end of the day, ideas can’t be captured or learned.
With stunningly gorgeous costumes, The Warrior Queen of Jhansi illustrates the repercussions of arranged marriage, how even today women still fight to be heard, respected, honored and prove that when women are at the helm we get it done.
Produced by Roadside Attractions, The Warrior Queen of Jhansi is in theaters now.