Name: Shaakuntalam

Cast: Samantha Ruth Prabhu,Dev Mohan

Rating: 2.5 / 5

Synopsis: Shaakuntalam is based on the internationally acclaimed Kalidasa’s Sanskrit play ‘Abhijnana Shakuntalam’. The story of this historical drama, starring Samantha and Dev Mohan revolves around the epic love story of Shakuntala and King Dushyant from Mahabharata. It is a whimsical tale of love set in the Kashyapa Kanumalu (Kashmir). The grandeur and splendour of Dushyant’s Puru Dynasty, larger-than-life sets and Samantha’s beauty make the film extremely exceptional.

Shakuntala (play) has been made into a film in multiple languages through the decades, one being N. T. Rama Rao and B. Saroja Devi starrer, which was released in 1966. The power of Kalidasa’s ‘Abhijnan Shakuntalam’ on Indian cinema is nothing less than magical and director Gunashekar is another greatest filmmaker, who pays an ode to the love story holding the magical hands of Kalidasa.

The story begins with, Kanva Maharshi finding Saint Viswamitra and Menaka’s newborn baby in the forest, surrounded by birds. She is named Sakunthala by him. King Dushyanta (Dev Mohan) encounters Sakunthala (Samantha) while hunting, falls in love with her, and later marries as per the Gandharva marriage. The scenes have been brought out well in a dramatic, colourful fashion and everything is sought to be explained through dry lines. The sizzling chemistry, and oh-so-romantic scenes between Samantha and Dev Mohan evolve and keep us invested without letting us demand frills. The chemistry between the lead pair is so pure and pristine. 

However, the worsening of the situation in the first half of the film is for the key players and how their lives are narrated at a leisurely pace. But a reasonable start is not a so-far-so-good scenario. Even when Shakuntalaam turns a bit melodramatic in an unapologetic manner, or when the pacing issues crop up, you don’t want to complain much. The dramatic progressions further are attended by songs, (a lot of songs), which leads to a new set of problems. 

Before returning to his palace, Dushyanta gives his royal ring to Sakunthala as a symbol of his love and promises her to take home soon. One day, Saint Durvasa visits the ashram but, Sakunthala seems to be lost in her thoughts of her King (Dushyant) and fails to greet him properly. He curses her by bewitching Duṣyanta into forgetting her existence. Time passes, and Sakunthala becomes pregnant, so, Kanva Maharshi decides to send her to King Dushyant. 

For a period drama, ‘Shaakuntalam’ does look a tad too colourful at times. The Hindi dubbing falls flat, might also bring some laughter with dialogues but better than what we have seen in the trailer. 

Samantha’s convictions spill over into the frames; she succeeds in showing the right expressions, especially in emotional scenes. Her labour pain scene in a cave with a passing of a Tiger is her strength. Sam’s expressive eyes, her charming smile, and her graceful looks make her layered character look utterly believable. Mollywood actor Dev Mohan is likely to become a sought-after name in Telugu cinema after this. He is fab! 

The pacing is helped by Prawin Pudi’s editing in the second half. Mani Sharma’s rendering of the background score lends a touch of intrigue. Madhoo Shah, Kabir Bedi, and Prakash Raj get to play small but well-written parts. 

An honest attempt has been made to make the film stand exceptional and kids-friendly in the VFX department but a lot more effort is needed on that front, as the attempt goes underwhelming. The detailing, and slow-mo will take you into the beautiful whimsical forest (in 3D), giving the feel of a forest princess in a Disney kind of film. Despite the technical brilliance, the film falters due to amateurish writing in the first half. The second half is saved by Samantha and Dev Mohan’s performance. 

What worked for me is- Samantha’s outfits by designer Neeta Lulla. She has done a fab job in detailing of the outfits for Shakuntala. Sam shoulders the film well with her expressions in this half-baked film.

The real cherry on top is- Allu Arha, daughter of Allu Arjun. Her few minutes of presence as their son Bharata makes for a soulful climax. 

All in all, Samantha’s image needed far smarter writing. 

ALSO READ: Finding strength in hardships to collab with Mrunal Thakur, Samantha’s boss replies during Ask Sam


Affair-to-remember-has-both-hits-and-misses-1216688″>Source link