If there is one film to see this year, it would be this one! Swords and Sceptres: The Rani of Jhansi, directed by Swati Bhise, is a story that brings strong women of history to the forefront. This film is a brutal and honest depiction of what happened both in Britain as well as India around 1850. The relevance of this story is perfectly fitting for today much like when the award-winning film Lagaan was released, but instead follows the journey of a Queen who leads her army to rebel against the East India Company. The cinematography provides captivating colour and vibrancy, much like the Bollywood film Jodha Akbar, while still capturing the brutal strength of the Jhansi army and the terror they face.
Swords and Sceptres: The Rani of Jhansi also contains many subtle yet powerful moments for women including them as soldiers, fighting the customs of a widow and fighting the suppression of a woman’s intellect on both the British side and the India side. On top of that, Bhise brilliantly manages to create clear parallels between the two Queens which is rarely ever shown when depicting the fight of independence between India and Britain.
Finally, the use of English and Hindi was beautifully done with the inclusion of subtitles. This is very rarely done well without cringing when seeing actors poorly attempt to speak either language fluently in Indian storytelling. This was not the case when watching this film. These filmmakers did an excellent job at fusing the two languages to make this story easy to watch for both English and Hindi speakers. The acting in both English and Hindi is seamless and incredibly moving without taking away from the story.
In my opinion, this film is of similar calibre to past award-winning films and should be treated as such. If you like historical stories about royalty filled with action-packed sword fighting and powerful women leading the way then this film is one not to be missed! Be sure to attend the world premiere of Swords and Sceptres: The Rani of Jhansi!
Written by: Aliza Vellani, a Vancouver based Actor and Board Member for Women in Film and Television.
Catch the World Premiere of Swords and Sceptres: The Rani of Jhansi at the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival at 2:30 PM on Sunday, March 10th. Click here for tickets!