Sonu Sood has left the production of the Kangana Ranaut-starrer historical epic Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi midway. Rumours of Sood quitting the film due to an altercation with Ranaut were floating since morning. Ranaut, however, claimed that Sood left Manikarnika because he could not give dates for the new schedule this year.
Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, scripted by Baahubali writer KV Vijayendra Prasad, has been directed by Telugu filmmaker Krish. There have been reports that Ranaut had replaced Krish as the director after a clapboard from the film’s sets featured the actress’s name as the director.
Produced by Zee Studios and Kamal Jain, Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi stars Ranaut as the freedom fighter Rani Laxmibai. The film also stars Jisshu Sengupta, Ankita Lokhande, Atul Kulkarni, and Suresh Oberoi. The music and lyrics are by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Prasoon Joshi respectively. The makers are eyeing at a January 25 release next year to cash in on the Republic Day weekend.
A Twitter account dedicated to Ranaut’s activities said on August 30 that the actress would be shooting the “patchwork” of the film while Krish moves on to direct the bilingual Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao biopic.
Ranaut reiterated in a press statement that the “patchwork” means re-shooting Sood’s scenes along with actor Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, which Ranaut will direct herself.
Ranaut said that she had not met Sood since the last time he shot for Manikarnika with Krish in 2017. According to her, Sood quit the film after not giving dates to the production this year. He is shooting Rohit Shetty’s Simmba, meanwhile.
“He refused to meet me,” Ranaut said in the statement quoted in The Indian Express. “He vehemently denied to work under a woman director.”
Ranaut also said that Sood had “spiked hair with gel” in the film, which is incongruous with a historical film. Sood also tried to incorporate “kushti” (wrestling) scenes “like Dangal” that were apparently not in the screenplay.
Sonu Sood’s spokesperson told The Press Trust of India that the actor could not return to the film’s sets because the re-shoots demanded him to go clean-shaven whereas he is sporting a beard for Simmba. “I have utmost respect and love for Sonu and he is like family to us,” Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi co-producer Kamal Jain said. “With a heavy heart we have mutually decided to part ways due to his date unavailability.”
This is not the first time Ranaut has been accused of high-handedness. In 2017, Ranaut and screenwriter Apurva Asrani were involved in a major online tussle over the writing credits of Hansal Mehta’s Simran. Asrani alleged that Ranaut forced her way into the film, while Ranaut claimed that Asrani’s script was not up to the mark.