Kangana Ranaut's Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi has had a commendable run at the box office. The film that featured her as a valiant Rani Laxmibai (the queen of Jhansi), also marked her debut as a director; probably the ideal film a female filmmaker could have begun her journey with. It brought life to a glorious chapter of India's movement towards independence, and whether or not one admires the film cinematically, we can all acknowledge that it was an important film.
Coming to the box office figures, however, Kangana's film opened to a little over Rs 7 crore on its first day and stood with around Rs 40 crore after its first weekend. It had the Republic Weekend to capture and didn't have any major competitor to lock horns with. Nawazuddin Siddiqui's Thackeray, having released on the same day, almost sank without any trace ( at least business-wise).
Knowing that the film was made on a large scale (especially owing to the war sequences and the usage of VFX) and Kangana and team were on a powerful promotional spree, many looked forward to Manikarnika crashing into the 100-crore club quite soon. But that was not to be.
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Vijayi Bhava! Strength, resolve & undying patriotism. #ManikarnikaTheQueenOfJhansi
In reality, however, the figures are unimpressive. Even though the numbers sent by the production team claim that the film has minted Rs 100-crore, we got in touch with trade expert Amul Mohan to discuss the same.
"The accurate number of the film is just a little over Rs 89 crore or maybe 90 crores. It has not crossed 100 crores yet. This week has been a little bit of an issue because Uri is still going strong and you are seeing what Gully Boy is doing right now. So the weekend has really been affected. 100 crores could be attained at one point but I doubt it now. Even if you take Tamil and Telugu versions in which the film was released, the collections are negligible. So you don't really want to count that. Because that's not really going to suffice, " he says.
Knowing that Manikarnika was made with a budget of almost Rs 130 crore and won't really have an open run at the box office anymore owing to Gully Boy and Uri, do we say that it's impossible for the film to recover its budget?
"These films recover a lot of money from selling their rights (music, satellite, digital rights). The overseas and the Tamil and Telugu versions are also there. They've made money from those avenues as well. So I wouldn't say it hasn't recovered anything. But I feel it is a different kind of a high because it's a solo, women-centric film. Such a film doing 100-crore would be a different high. Last year, we saw Raazi which was a comparatively smaller film but went on to do 100 crores. It takes a lot of strength. It gives a lot of weight to that kind of a zone," he says, adding that he believes even the 90-crore that it has raked in is phenomenal.
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Her fearless persona made her the most lionhearted warrior queen of the nation⚔️ Witness the story of #JhansiKiRani with the #ManikarnikaTrailer: bit.ly/Manikarnika-Trailer
Adding the amount earned through other ways to the film's theatrical collection, can Manikarnika be called a box office success? Or will it stand as an average performer?
"If you take other avenues of recovery, the movie is probably going to be at best an average earner but I feel even with its average status, had it crossed 100 crores, it would be a different kind of high to a film of this kind of a stature which doesn't have a normal Bollywood trapping," Amul concludes.
One might want to look back at Kangana's recent past films, all of them featuring her at her talented best but failing to mint moolah. This includes Hansal Mehta's Simran and Vishal Bhardwaj's Rangoon. While Manikarnika was truly treated like a magnum opus, it didn't exactly earn the money we all thought it should.
May be next time, Kangana!