Sonil Dedhia (MID-DAY; May 5, 2017)

The quaint gullies of Varanasi wore an unusually vibrant look yesterday as it served as the perfect backdrop for the launch of Kangana Ranaut’s upcoming film, Manikarnika - The Queen Of Jhansi. The actress, who is also a co-producer on the Rani Lakshmibai biopic, launched a 20-feet poster at the Dasashwmedh Ghat in the presence of hundreds of fans, who cheered her on throughout the evening.

Talking about her passion project with mid-day, which was on the spot yesterday, Kangana said, “This is an auspicious day for us. We have got the best team on board and we are attempting an extraordinary film.” The actress made it a point to visit the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, too, to offer prayers.

Asked if she has been able to imbibe the spirit of Rani Lakshmibai through several years of prep, she said, “The Queen of Jhansi believed that life without dignity is equivalent to death and that’s why I totally relate to the character. It holds true in today’s world too.”

Unit hands informed that various aspects of Rani Lakshmibai’s life will be documented in the film being coproduced by Kamal Jain and Zee Studios. April 27, 2018, has been set as the release date.

As the evening drew to a close, lyricist Prasoon Joshi read out a heart-rending equivalent poem celebrating the spirit of Lakshmibai. But the high point was Kangana participating in the Ganga aarti and taking a dip in the Ganges as director Krish, co-writers K V Vijayendra Prasad, Prasoon and musician trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy looked on.