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Devika Bhise stars as Rani Lakshmibai in The Warrior Queen of Jhansi.

Courtesy of Roadside Attractions

  • The Warrior Queen of Jhansi
  • Directed by Swati Bhise
  • Written by Swati Bhise and Devika Bhise
  • Starring Devika Bhise, Rupert Everett, Derek Jacobi and Ben Lamb
  • Classification PG
  • 108 minutes

rating

It is the purpose of the period drama The Warrior Queen of Jhansi to enforce the view that the 19th-century freedom fighter and feminist Rani Lakshmibai was the Joan of Arc of her time and place. How do we know this? Actor Rupert Everett, as a senior British officer and mutton-chop champion, tells us so in the film. “She’s like Joan of Arc,” he says, in awe, speaking to no one except the audience. If so, she deserves a better film than the one from director, co-writer and co-producer Swati Bhise.

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She’s a Mumbai-born, New York-based dancer-choreographer whose daughter Devika Bhise landed the lead role in a colourful but dull icon builder that struggles to be over-the-top. Awkwardly constructed with laughable romantic suggestions, sword-based gore and a whimsical approach to chronological accuracy, the story involves the Indian uprising against the British East India Company.

“We should have killed her when had the chance,” the cartoon colonial villain says about the warrior queen. “Uh, we didn’t have the chance,” replies Everett’s officer. “Next time,” the villain persists, “if we take her alive, she should be dealt with severely and without delay.” What? One wonders how Everett got mixed up in this mess.

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The Warrior Queen of Jhansi opens Nov. 15

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