Shaakuntalam 2023 Movie Review: This mythological experiment is a misfire

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Shaakuntalam 2023 Movie Review

Director: Gunasekhar

Based on: Shakuntala

Cast: Samantha, Dev Mohan, Mohan Babu, Jisshu Sengupta, Madhoo, Gautami, Aditi Balan and Ananya Nagalla

Cinematography: Sekhar V. Joseph

Music: Mani Sharma


Shakuntala and King Dushyant marry, but Dushyant forgets all about Shakuntala due to a sage’s curse

Shaakuntalam 2023 Movie Review:

Shakuntala (Samantha Prabhu) is the only daughter of the sage Visvamitra and the apsara Menaka. Abandoned at birth by her parents, she is reared in the secluded hermitage of the sage Kanva and grows up an innocent maiden.

Set in a pre-Mahabharata era, Shaakuntalam is the love story of King Dushyanta (Dev Mohan), who possesses almost all the qualities of a brave and noble-minded hero, and Shakuntala. Dushyanta falls in love at first sight, as does Shakuntala.

They both have a Gandharva marriage and honeymoon and then the king has to leave for his duties. He promises to return, and he does when Shakuntala is pregnant with his child, but their expected reunion is abandoned by the sage Durvasa’s curse.

All the memories of Shakuntala fade from Dushyant’s life, and she is humiliated at his court. Will she grow up with her child all alone, and will Dushyant be able to get her back? Find out about it in the film if you are unaware of this legendary tale from our Indian literature.

Shaakuntalam 2023 Movie Review
Shaakuntalam 2023 Movie Review

Shakuntalam is a fascinating story, and I don’t really think the story is at fault here. It is our history/mythology (choose your side), and we can’t help it if things did happen that way in the ancient era and you can’t find them reasonable enough in 2023. The problem is its screenplay which is terribly outdated.

Those TV serials we used to watch in the 80s and 90s on Historical/ mythological epics were far more updated than this. What’s that overly dramatic background score? What did that Hindi-dubbed dialogue actually mean?

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I don’t see how an intimate honeymoon song can suddenly get crowded with 6 background dancers. I don’t understand how some of those cheap misogynist terms remain safe in a hard-hitting feminist drama.

I couldn’t understand the time leap and the Hindi- translated songs coming in between when nobody was interested in watching them. Bal Gandharva’s musical adaptation had 100x better songs and song videos in the 40s and 50s than this.

Okay, so you have animals all around you to make it more emotional but don’t play with human emotions at least. The flaws in the screenplay can go longer than the film’s runtime if I want, but let’s stop now with just one word: Gruesome.

Shaakuntalam 2023 Review » Broadway Originals
Shaakuntalam 2023 Movie Review

Speaking of acting, Shakuntala’s role needed a beautiful face, and that’s what Samantha Ruth Prabhu is. However, they forgot that it needed a powerful actor too.

Shakuntala’s monologue in King Dushyant’s court is one of the major highlights of this classic tale, but see how mediocre it looks here with Samantha. I am saying it again: the 90s daily soaps were far more updated then than what Shaakuntalam does in 2023.

One cannot imagine Dev Mohan as a muscular and brave king who fights elephants, tigers, wolves, and an army of a million because he doesn’t have the required physics. Yes, the performance is somewhat applicable and sorted, but it doesn’t make up for the whole thing.

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The supporting cast of Sachin Khedekar, Aditi Balan, Gautami, Ananya Nagalla, Prakash Raj, Mohan Babu, Jisshu Sengupta, Kabir Duhan Singh, Kabir Bedi, Subbaraju, and others is below average. Allu Araha and her chatterbox segments will be loved by all.

You can’t go wrong with the language, particularly with a film based on an ancient tale. Shaakuntalam is weak at the base there. The first floor, I mean, the grandeur is somewhat watchable on the big screen, but 3D goggles for 145 minutes, and that too for a slow film like this, are entitled to make your head a bit heavy and restless.

Shaakuntalam 2023 Movie Review
Shaakuntalam 2023 Movie Review

The film was delayed for visual effects, but even they are not worthy. Believe me, KV Reddy’s Mayabazar (1957) had better effects than this. I never saw any legendary ancient tale going so melodramatic with known segments the way Shaakuntalam has gone.

Take “Cleopatra” (1933), “The Ten Commandments” (1956), and “Ben-Hur” (1959), for instance. These films were made when Indian cinema was struggling for one big global sensation, and they still look better than today’s films after 8-9 decades.

What a shame for us! Gunasekhar’s Shaakuntalam wants to look older, forcefully; so old that I thought it might go behind BC and then to the dystopian era, only to get close to the Mahabharata period. Sorry, Guna sir-what a repellant film you have made on a fascinating story like this. Expected Shakun-to-come, but instead came Apshaakuntalam.

Gunasekhar completely failed to impress with Shaakuntalam and falls short on all counts, whether as a visual extravaganza or as a good mythological drama. The narration is tedious, and the 3D effects are dreadful. The ‘soul’ is missing in this glitzy attempt.

Arul S

I am a creative writer with experience in the creative Film writing field where I have written many scripts and Screenplay. I create sort of creative articles, blogs, movie or series reviews. The content will be 100% original and error-free.