Shaakuntalam Movie review: Boring Mythological drama

Samantha Ruth Prabhu is back with “Shaakuntalam” to entertain the audience. The mythological drama is directed by Gunasekhar. Dev Mohan played the male lead. The film hit the screens and let’s see how it fares at box-office.


Sage Vishwamitra starts his penance to become more and more powerful. Indra gets tensed about losing his throne and sends Menaka to seduce Vishwamitra. Vishwamitra and Menaka then give birth to a baby girl but Menaka abandons the child as a living human being is not allowed in heaven. Sage Kanva (Sachin Khedekar), who notices the baby near his hermitage, names her Shakuntala (Samantha) and raises her as his daughter. After several years, Shakuntala comes across King Dushyant (Dev Mohan) in the forest, and within no time, both fall for each other. They marry according to the Gandharva marriage system, and later Shakuntala becomes pregnant. Dushyant promises to take Shakuntala to his kingdom after a while. After Dushyant reaches his kingdom, he forgets Shakuntala due to the curse of sage Durvasa (Mohan Babu). The rest of the film showcases the hardships faced by Shakuntala to prove her relationship with Dusyant.


First things first, Gunasekhar should be commended for his attempt to take mythology closer to millennials. “Shaakuntalam” is a proper love story, and to mount it on a large canvas like this is a risk. He tried to commercialise it by bringing in some action sequences, and that attempt did not appear forced. So, Gunasekhar came up with a good idea, to begin with. The brief action sequences in the first half were decent (barring one war), but the war sequence in the second half was a massive disappointment. The tyranny of the Asuras should have been more properly written, and the less said about the VFX, the better.

Fundamentally, “Shaakuntalam” is a love story, but Samantha in the titular role and Dev Mohan, a new face, gave it a feeling of a female-oriented subject. The makers did portray it in the same way to market Samantha. But that idea did not provide a proper view of the subject. To drive home a love story like this, we need strong chemistry between the lead pair, conflicts to drive the story, and drama to connect to the proceedings. This is where Gunasekhar failed. There is no proper chemistry between the lead pair and insufficient drama to feel attached to Shakuntala’s character. Samantha’s regular image also became a problem.

In the second half, Samantha goes missing for a good portion after an effective court scene. The director should have shown more of her pain here. Probably, Gunasekhar missed it while trying to avoid melodrama. But the essence of a crucial block in the love story is lost in the process. The Dushyanta‘s realisation is also not that impactful.

Allu Arha helps with the final portions of the film. The kiddo’s cute screen presence and beautiful dialogue delivery leave the audience amused. The final union also happens with very little drama. The production design is impressive, but the visual and 3D effects were a mixed bag.

“Shaakuntalam” is the kind of film where we can clearly see Gunasekhar’s honest intention and effort. But when we finish the film, we are left with the feeling that he was too ambitious with a very thin story to deal with. Also, there are some flaws that can be avoided and some that are unavoidable.

Overall, there is a genuine and honest attempt from Gunasekhar to present a mythological story to the millennials. But he fails to bring enough drama to the proceedings to hold the attention.


The main characters of “Shaakuntalam” are Shakuntala and Dushyant. Samantha plays Shakuntala. It is a brave decision to cast her in the role. “Shakuntalam” has two shades – Srungara Shakuntala and Atmabhimana Shakuntala in Abignana Shaakuntalam. Samantha put up a fine show in the second portion. But her image and body language came in the way of Srungara Shakuntala. We got to see the usual Samantha in those portions, thereby damaging the authenticity of the character. She appeared masculine and well-built, which contradicts the Srungara Shakuntala Kalidasa described. She tried to bring that impact using her voice, but that did not work. Considering the length and absence in significant portion, it isn’t the memorable outing that Samantha hoped for, undoubtedly. Dev Mohan playing Dushyant seems to be a good find. Barring a couple of small sequences, he put up a largely good performance. However, a couple of flaws undoes the work. The first is the need for more screen presence in some places. The other is a lack of nativity. A known face locally would have had a bigger impact.

The next role that grabs attention is that of Allu Arha, which stands out and captures the audience’s interest. The kiddo rocked the screen in the climax. She delivered her lines with charm and grace during the confrontation scenes. Arha’s on-screen presence and her confidence is a treat to watch.

Mohan Babu is seen in a cameo as Durvasa Mahamuni and is good. Sathya is seen in a comic part, but the impact is missing. There are many other noticeable faces like Sachin Khedkar, Ananya Nagalla, Prakash Raj, Gautami, Madhoo, Kabir Bedi, Jisshu Sengupta, Kabir Duhan Singh, Harish Uthaman, Subbaraju, Aadarsh Balakrishna etc. There are some hits and misses in them. Some good actors given minor roles are acceptable, while other recognisable faces are wasted.


Director Gunasekhar, he did a poor job with the film. His intention to tell a mythological story to the modern youth is good, but his execution is the biggest culprit of Shaakuntalam. The narration and the way the characters are portrayed are not at all impressive. The drama was heavily missing, which shouldn’t be the case for a mythological drama. Mani Sharma gave his best with the background score and songs. A couple of songs were good on screen, but their placement is bad. The cinematography by Shekar V Joseph is pretty average. The editing could have been a lot better, and a few scenes could have been chopped off. The production values for a film of this budget are poor. Above all, the awful VFX makes one disconnect from the proceedings. The ancient Telugu language used in a few sequences might not go well with the film’s target audience, i.e., millennials.


The intent of promoting mythology

Couple of emotional scenes by Samantha

Allu Arha’s portions


Lack of chemistry

No proper emotions

Samantha’s own dubbing in few scenes