Days after Telugu filmmaker Krish detailed his tussle with Kangana Ranaut over directorial credit for the recently released Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, Ranaut’s sister, Rangoli Chandel, and censor board chairperson Prasoon Joshi spoke up in support of the actress.
Krish was brought on board as the solo director on the project but Ranaut, the film’s lead actress, also got involved in the filmmaking process. The Rani Laxmibai biopic, released on January 25, is credited to Ranaut and Krish, who is referred to by his full name Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi, a name he has said that he never uses.
In a January 25 interview to the entertainment website Spotboye, Krish alleged that Ranaut assumed control of the project and reworked scenes that he had shot. He also accused her of cutting down the screen time of actors such as Atul Kulkarni and Prajakta Mali and blamed her for actor Sonu Sood’s exit from the project. Sood was replaced by Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub.
In a tweet on Monday, Prasoon Joshi, who is also the film’s dialogue writer and lyricist, said Ranaut had “elevated the film to another level” and praised her work as an actor as well as director. “Let not any controversy take that away from her,” Joshi said.
Rangoli Chandel, meanwhile, claimed that Ranaut had shot 70% of the film with cinematographers Kiran Deohans and Sachin K Krishn and “took 100% final calls on edit with Rameshwar, who Krish never met in his life”. Ranaut also had to oversee more than 2,500 VFX shots, the background and sound in just two months time, Chandel added.
Krish had told Spotboye that Ranaut had reworked nearly 25% of the first half and nearly 15% of the post-interval sections. “I didn’t shoot a song and I didn’t shoot her entry scene (where she fells a tiger’s attack),” he said. “....Atul Kulkarni teaches sword fighting to Kangana, we had shot some beautiful scenes. That entire thing was sidelined.”
When asked if the film turned out the way he had envisaged, Krish said: “There’s not much difference. But Rani Laxmibai’s counterparts are not strong. They haven’t come out very well. Like for one, Sonu Sood had actually shot for Sadashiv Rao’s part. Zeeshan is a brilliant actor, but the audience didn’t get to see what Sonu had done. If you see it, you will understand what I mean.”
A deleted scene being circulated online reveals Sonu Sood’s Sadashiv Rao in bare-chested combat.
The controversy surrounding Manikarnika also prompted Simran screenwriter Apurva Asrani to revisit his long-running battle with Kangana Ranaut over the authorship of the 2017 film. Ranaut was credited with “additional screenplay and dialogue” for Hansal Mehta’s heist drama, in which she also played the lead. Ranaut had claimed at the time that Asrani’s script did not match her vision of her character, forcing her to intervene.
On January 28, Asrani tweeted to Hansal Mehta, accusing him of keeping silent on the controversy. “If you had the courage to stand up then, we could have weathered many more storms together,” tweeted Asrani, who has collaborated with Mehta on Aligarh (2017).
Mehta responded by saying that Simran was a “closed chapter” and that the details of what actually transpired during the shoot would remain a “painful chapter” of his life.