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'Queen' Kangana Ranaut gets her dream project

The actress is set to play Rani Lakshmibai in Ketan Mehta's long awaited biopic.

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Mayur Lookhar

Her devil-may-care attitude has won her many admirers. Kangana Ranaut typifies the spirit of a warrior. No wonder director Ketan Mehta has roped in the Queen actress to play the lead in his long-awaited biopic on the 19th century warrior queen Lakshmibai. 

"The reason for casting Kangana is that she has courage, fire in her belly and a desire to excel,” Mehta told The Times of India newspaper. 

Playing Rani Lakshmibai means Ranaut will have to perform plenty of action. She has already learnt horse-riding for Vishal Bhardwaj’s Rangoon (2017), but Ranaut will now be wielding the sword as well. 

“We have workshops to rehearse lines before the shoot. I also want to do workshops to learn hand-to-hand combat, how to ride in a sari, with a baby tied to my back, fighting with two swords and holding the reins in my mouth. Nothing should look fake or forced which is why I haven't set a time limit for when the film rolls. I want the script to come alive as beautifully and fiercely on screen,” Ranaut told the newspaper.

The actress also wants to develop a special bond with the horse that will be chosen to play the part of Lakshmibai’s legendary steed, Badal.

"On the battlefield, the rani was unstoppable, as brave as Tatya Tope and Nanasaheb, mardani [masculine] but not a mard [man]. I have seen some of her pictures clicked by an English photographer and she was delicate and beautiful....More than anger there was melancholy on her face. She was a woman at the wrong place at the right time who ended up becoming a reluctant hero and rewriting history,” said Ranaut.

Interestingly, as a six-year-old, Ranaut had recited Subhadra Kumari’s poem Jhansi Ki Rani.

“It was only when I was in a higher class and the poem was part of our syllabus that I began to understand the true meaning of the words and the woman they described," recalled Ranaut.

Mehta's biopic will be co-produced with Victory Media. An updated biopic on the legendary queen has been long overdue, with actress Sushmita Sen also wanting to make the film. For Ketan Mehta, too, it has taken ten years for his dream to come to fruition.