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The Warrior Queen of Jhansi

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Warrior Queen of Jhansi Movie Poster Image
Earnest but heavy-handed docudrama is uneven and violent.
  • R
  • 2019
  • 102 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Encourages people to stand up to their oppressors. Recognizes value, contributions of a woman warrior to her cause. Lakshmibai's history promotes teamwork between people of different social classes and backgrounds. Movie also explains why India should be run by Indians, Great Britain's many crimes/mistakes in their history of colonialism. Perseverance, integrity, courage are themes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Rani is a positive role model for empowerment, for wanting to overthrow oppressive regimes. According to film, she lifted up voices of women, even "Untouchables." She breaks with tradition if it doesn't seem wise to follow, encourages women to defy expectations, encourages kingdom's subjects to rise in defense of their homeland. British East India Company officers are a mixed bag, ranging from immoral and sadistic to loyal and dutiful to empathetic and hoping for diplomacy. Ellis in particular is portrayed as sympathetic to Indian rulers' cause, understanding of anger toward East India Company.

Violence

Lots of violent images of British killing innocents, slashing throats, pulling women by the hair on the way to be (presumably) raped, hanging people (several close-ups of the dead). People die during battle via swords, blades, guns. Scenes of animals being shot, of fields of corpses. One sequence shows a couple of ways a person may have died. Blood is visible in several scenes, though not always in realistic amounts.

Sex

The Rani and the Maharaja embrace, caress, hold each other. Two dancers perform an alluring dance at a reception for mostly male warriors.

Language

Insult language like "animals," "savages," "brutes," "barbarians," and "traitors," as well as Britishism "bloody."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Brief shot of adults smoking hookah and people holding cups that are presumably filled with alcohol at a morale-boosting party for the warriors.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Warrior Queen of Jhansi is a historical drama about the legendary Lakshmibai, a widowed queen of a small Indian province who openly rebelled against the East India Company and British rule in the mid-19th century. Directed by Swati Bhise and starring her daughter, actor Devika Bhise, the movie includes quite a lot of violence, with close-ups of hanged men, fields of corpses, throat slashings, implied rape, and battle sequences with swords, blades, and guns between the British forces and the coalition of Indian rebels. Otherwise, content is quite mild, and teens who watch will get a worthwhile lesson in leadership and women's empowerment thanks to this little-known (to Western audiences) but important historical figure's story.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMichael KellY3 November 17, 2019
Adult Written byJARVC November 17, 2019

Must watch movie on the life of Rani of Jhansi

Its a real life story of the warrior queen of Jhansi. Little has been known about the Rani and the East India Company. Its very educational, emotional and tel... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

THE WARRIOR QUEEN OF JHANSI is the story of a legendary Indian woman named Lakshmibai (Devika Bhise) who, as a young woman, married the Maharaja of Jhansi, Gangadhar Rao (Milind Gunaji), and became the Rani (queen) of Jhansi. Lakshmibai gives birth to a son, but he dies in infancy, leaving Jhansi heir-less until she and Gangadhar formally adopt their nephew. After Gangadhar dies unexpectedly, the East India Company (Great Britain's proxy in India) applies a new Victorian Era law that says that because a woman and an adopted son cannot rule, the land reverts to British (Company) rule. Rani Lakshmibai decides that she will defy the order at the same time that Indian soldiers working for the East India Company rebel because they discover that the cartridge grease on their rifles (which soldiers had to bite) was allegedly made with pork and beef fat, a violation of both Muslim and Hindu dietary laws. Rani allies with other province royals as well as the betrayed soldiers in what's known as the Indian Rebellion. Meanwhile, Queen Victoria (Jodhi May) and Prime Minister Lord Palmerston (Derek Jacobi) rely on East India Company's ranking officer, Sir Hugh Rose (Rupert Everett), and a vicious civil servant, Sir Robert Hamilton (Nathaniel Parker), to negotiate -- or crush the rebellion.

Is it any good?

The story of India's legendary Rani Lakshmibai is fascinating and deserves to be shared with audiences worldwide, but this underwhelming biographical drama falls short of living up to its source. In a more nuanced filmmaker's hands, perhaps The Warrior Queen of Jhansi wouldn't feel like a surprisingly bloody world history video. Even the award-winning British actors in the supporting cast seem to be phoning in the bland, overly pedantic and sentimental screenplay. Despite the riveting premise, the bland writing and the occasionally wooden acting make the movie seem like a bit of a slog -- even though it's just roughly 100 minutes long.

Bhise (who is the director's daughter) lacks the gravitas that this larger-than-life role demands. It would have been better if the money spent on hiring Everett, Jacobi, and May had gone to casting a more experienced Indian actress for the central role. It's hard not to wonder what could have happened had a filmmaker like Mira Nair, Gurinder Chadha, Deepa Mehta, or Zoya Akhtar (all also notable women directors of Indian descent) made a more effective, more ambitious, less earnest, less black-hat vs. white-hat film chronicling Rani Lakshmibai's story. Parker in particular plays Sir Hamilton like an irredeemable, mustache-twirling villain, while Ben Lamb's Major Robert Ellis is sympathetic but also clearly in love with Lakshmibai. Parts of the narrative are instructive enough to merit follow-up research and questions, but overall, the movie is undeniably educational but not cinematically entertaining.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the amount of violence in The Warrior Queen of Jhansi. Is there a difference between realistic and stylized violence? Which has more impact? Why?

  • What did you learn from the movie? Are you interested in finding out more about the Rani or India's struggle for independence from the British?

  • Do you consider Rani Lakshmibai a role model? How does she exhibit courage, integrity, and perseverance? How was she different from other women of her time and place?

  • What does the movie teach about the idea of empire? Why is it important for people to rule their own countries?

Movie details

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