Film Review: Shaakuntalam

 The much awaited Samantha starrer Shaakuntalam, directed by Gunasekar, hit screens in multiple,languages on April 14th.

The film is based on Kalidasa's sanskrit classic play Abhigyana Sakuntalam.

King Dushyant ( Dev Mohan) falls in love with a sage's foster child, Shakuntala (Samantha), and the duo perform a secret marriage in the hermitage she lives in.  But due to a curse, the duo are separated and Shakuntala bears Dushyant's child after she is abandoned by her husband, in another hermitage of Rishi Kashyap.

Will the duo ever be united? Will Dushyant meet his son,  the future great prince, Bharat (Allu Arha)?

The movie is rich in visuals and vfx, especially in scenes likes the hermitage (with wildlife, flora and fuana), grand mountain areas  and the grand palace scenes, apart from the scenes involving Indra and the apsaras. The abundance of animals and birds are bound to enchant kids.

The costume department handled by Neeta Lulla has done a fab job especially with hero Dev Mohan's costumes and that of Samantha as princess. 

The music is nothing siginificant to write home about and the bgm is adequate.

The director has largely stuck to the story but the film doesn't establish a strong emotional connect with the viewer, which makes one merely an observer, without feeling the pain, love or struggle of the leads. It's more like wathing an amar chitra katha come to life.

The hermitage and jungle area where the leads meet and talk etc, seem cramped, like as if the actors, have a limited stage area to perform in. Too much foliage, flowers, water bodies, animals and people all seem packed into a cramped area is the feeling one gets in those scenes.

The scene where Shakuntala is literally stoned by people is disturbing and could have been avoided. Was it part of Kalidasa's play?

Samantha has given her best for the role and looks radiant as the queen and mother and innocent as the girl in love. Dev Mohan looks regal as a royal and is rightly cast.  They hold the film together with their performances and screen presence.

Sachin Khedekar and actor Mohan Babu stand out as the sages, as do Indra and the apsaras. Gautami doesnt really create much of an  impact.

Baby Allu Arha as Bharat is the show stealer  with her vibrant screen presence, unihibited acting and cute intelligence and  innocence, creating an impact in the scenes she appears in.  One can't take eyes off the little one, especially in her dialogues with her father. She is easily amongst  the best parts of the movie. 

A visual treat for kids, Shaakuntalam, in theatres now.

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