The veteran was all praise for Gunasekhar, Samantha and Dev Mohan and attributes the film’s failure to changing tastes of audiences
Last Updated: 03.11 PM, May 26, 2023
Shaakuntalam, Gunasekhar’s epic drama based on Kalidasa’s treatise Abhijnana Shakuntalam, starring Samantha, Dev Mohan in the lead roles, released in multiple languages amidst several expectations this April 14 but bombed at the box office. Crowds plainly refused to watch it theatres and the critics didn’t have kind words to share about the movie too. The film later arrived on OTT via Amazon Prime Video.
Though it’s convenient to state reasons behind the film’s failure after its release now, the truth is that it’s hard to decode how the box office works. Filmmakers of every generation have attempted to adapt Shakuntala’s story and the results have been a mixed bag. However, it’s hard not to be fascinated by a tale where destiny and a curse play their part in separating a couple.
Kalidasa blends an element of fantasy with drama to this brief episode from Mahabharata and it continues to captivate us even today. Veteran writer Paruchuri Gopalakrishna, who runs a Youtube channel, was generous in his praise for Gunasekhar’s adaptation of the epic, sharing that it reminded him of the Sanskrit play he’d watched for the first time at Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Sanskrit University many moons ago.
“Gunasekhar may not have told novel stories through his films but he packages them with a certain finesse. I say this with the experience of working with him a few years ago. I felt the first hour of Shaakuntalam was nothing short of spellbinding. In the second half, I sense audiences may have lost interest in the story when the king remembers his past after getting hold of the ring. Beyond the realisation, the later part of the film is a formality,” he opined.
“The fate of Shaakuntalam may have been different if the screenplay was altered in the second hour and the king’s realisation was delayed. Yet, I would still say the film is a stellar achievement by all means. The audience’s tastes change from time to time and the current generation may not have found the tale relevant. However, the fabulous response on OTT proves that audiences across other age groups are quite interested to watch it,” Paruchuri added.
The veteran had high words of praise for the performances of Samantha, Dev Mohan and Mohan Babu. “When his magnum opus Hiranyakashyapa was delayed, Gunasekhar could’ve conveniently made a social film but he chose to tell this story and he deserves applause. There are many family dramas that have liberally borrowed the template of this epic and scored big hits. I would advise film buffs to give Shaakuntalam another chance on OTT,” he summed it up.