Gauthamiputra Satakarni - Movie Review

Thursday, January 12, 2017 - 11:15
Gauthamiputra Satakarni (2017)
Cast & Crew: 

Film: Gauthamiputra Satakarni
 Nandamuri Balakrishna, Hema Malini, Shriya Saran, Kabeer Bedi and others.
Dialogues: Saimadhav Burra
Director of Photography: Gnanashekhar
Art: Bhupesh Bhupathi
Lyrics: Sirivennela Sitarama Shastri
Fights: Ram Lakshman
Music: Chirantan Bhatt
Presenter: Bibo Srinivas
Co producer: Kommineni Venkateswara Rao
Producers: Y Rajiv Reddy, Jagarlamudi Saibabu
Director: Krish
Release date: 12 January 2017
CBFC Rating: UA
Runtime: 137 Min

Satakarni (Nandamuri Balakrishna) who rules from Amaravati vows to unite all the provinces together and bring all the people under one rule to end the perpetual wars. When he was five-years old, he takes the oath on his mother Balarshi. Once he becomes a king, he is on that mission - fighting wars and bringing one province after another under his rule. Being always at war strains his marital life with his wife Vaashista Devi but he doesn't leave his conquest. How he wins the heart of his wife at home, how he establishes matriarchal system and also how he defeats the Greek kings form the rest of the story.

In school books and history books, there is mention of emperor Satakarni and the great Satavahana period but his life story is not as popular as other kings or queens like Ashoka Chakravarthy, Rudhrama Devi, Chandra Gupta Mourya. So this made director Krish to tell the story of Satakarni who is believed to be the first great emperor on Telugu land. Historians say Satakarni first ruled from Kotilingala (current Telangana) and later firmed his power center in Amaravathi (current capital city of Andhra Pradesh). At end of the movie, Krish says this is our story - mana tata muttala kalam nati story, elugetti chatudam idi mana charitra ani (This is what our forefathers did, this is our story, so take pride in declaring it).

Well on that front, Krish has come up with exceptional work to depict the story of Satakarni. He begins the movie with a war. Satakarni comes on to the screen showing all his fierceness as he defeats the enemies. The scene denotes that Satakarni also used many warships. Without taking much time, Krish establishes the story, by directly telling that Satakarni vowed to his mother that he would unite all provinces and fight for it. So the story of the movie as well as biography of Satakarni is more about the wars he fought, battles he won. Mention of Rajasuya Yagam, the administrative rules he introduced, the marital drama…all are there but the movie mainly focuses on wars.

Krish has filmed all the three major wars he shown in the movie magnificently. The second war involving Kabir Bedi as King Nahapana is lengthy and but all of them have grandeur, detailing. The final battle with Greeks is filmed on large scale with so much passion. While Krish as the director shines with making of the movie, this team the story writer in him goes backseat. There is little "story" or "twists" in the movie. It is a plain screenplay. Other than war episodes, the other scenes are not that appealing. This is major drawback of the movie.

But Krish has completely relied on visual splendour and some good dialogue written by Sai Madhav Burra. "Badugu Jaati Kaadu Telugu Jaati Maadi', "Bhartala Pillala Deha Atmalanu Samptrutiparichi Adavalladi Goppa Samskaram kada" and other dialogues about mother and country are too good.

As said, 'Gauthamiputra Satakarni' has absolutely brilliant cinematography. Gnanasekhar's camera work has lent much credence to the movie. Within limited resources of time and budget, cameraman, production design team and director Krish have come up with rich work. Huge sets and graphics have helped the movie to get visual opulence.  

On the downside, the romantic duets, the burrakatha, the song before final war have put breaks to the narration. They need to be trimmed or deleted.  There is hardly any drama in the movie. Even though it has less runtime, the lengthy war scenes give us feel of huge runtime. Other than Balakrishna and Shriya who occupy much of the space, other actors are not impressive.

Among the performers, Balakrishna gets maximum marks. In the role of Satakarni he gave his best. He has fitted in the role and carried the role well.  Despite the fact that he looked a bit old for this character, he has come up with terrific dialogues. Shriya as his wife who is torn between her heart and raj dharma is good.  Hemamalini in her brief role is perfect. Kabir Bedi can hardly be recognised. In a minor character, Subhaleka Sudhakar makes impression.

Dialogue writer Sai Madhav Burra has penned perfect dialogues. Chirantan Bhatt's music is okay. With 'Kanche', director Krish has proved that he can now easily pull off subjects that have huge canvas. With this big movie, he has further strengthened the status. His strength of writing humane episodes is missing here but as director and technician he has grown.

Bottom-line: 'Gauthamiputra Satakarni' is story of a great emperor of Telugu land which is told with superb camera work and rich visuals, good graphics, and high production values. Balakrishna's performance and his dialogues and Krish's deft direction has made the movie an interesting watch despite it is being war-heavy. 

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