The 2023 Telugu-language historical romance drama film Shaakuntalam was written and produced by Gunasekhar. It is distributed by Sri Venkateswara Creations and produced by Neelima Guna through Gunaa Teamworks. The movie, which is based on the well-known Kalidasa drama Abhignyana Shakuntalam, stars Samantha in the lead role of Shakuntala, Dev Mohan in the supporting role of Dushyanta, the king of the Puru dynasty, and Mohan Babu, Jisshu Sengupta, Madhoo, Gautami, Aditi Balan, and Ananya Nagalla in the minor roles. Shakuntala and King Dushyant get married in the movie, but due to a sage's curse, Dushyant completely forgets about Shakuntala.
Gunasekhar unveiled the initiative in October 2020.The movie was made at Hyderabad's Annapurna Studios from February 2021 to August 2021.
The movie's production cost 65 crore. Ramoji Film City, Ananthagiri Hills, and Gandipet Lake are just a few of the locations used for filming in and around Hyderabad.On April 14, 2023, the movie was released in theatres. Critics blasted the movie, and it was a colossal commercial flop.
Menaka abandons the child close to Rishi Kanva's hermitage at the film's beginning before ascending to heaven. In the woodland during the summer, King Dushyanta pursued an antelope when he came across an ascetic. The monk advised him not to kill the beast because it belonged to Kanva's ashrama. After all, doing so would violate the land's sacredness.
Dushyanta was persuaded to go to the ashrama in exchange for his promise not to kill the antelope. He was informed that Shakuntala, Kanva's adoptive daughter, would welcome him since the sage was away. When he first entered the ashrama, he saw three beautiful females watering the plants and fell in love with Shakuntala, one of the girls. After speaking with the bevy, he discovered that Shakuntala's birth parents were Kshatriyas Vishvamitra and Menaka, making Shakuntala an ideal bride for him. However, Dushyanta opted not to expose his identity. After learning that an elephant was out of control, the group dispersed, and Shakuntala became enamored with the guest.
The king ordered his general to end the mayhem and tell his men not to approach the ashrama. He confided in his friend and sidekick Vidushaka his feelings, pleading with him to come up with an excuse to remain at the ashrama without raising any red flags. Fortunately, a few ascetics immediately approached him and asked him to protect their yajna, which he did without hesitation. To avoid his friend becoming a spy, he despatched Vidushaka to his capital while lying and claiming that his love for Shakuntala was only a jest. He kept vigil over the ascetics' yajna for a while. When Shankuntala acknowledged her emotions for Dushyanta, the two were legally wed using Gandharva ceremonies.
Before departing for the capital, the monarch assured his wife that he would send a capable guard to accompany her to his palace.
Shakuntala failed to extend proper hospitality to the irritable sage, Durvasa, while she was alone because she was preoccupied with the thoughts of her husband. She was cursed by Durvasa, who claimed that the man she had been obsessing about would never remember her. Anasuya, one of Shakuntala's associates, explained why her friend was careless and begged the sage's pardon. In exchange for a gesture of recognition, Duravasa consented to grant a concession of the curse, promising that the guy would remember her.
Because Shakuntala had a symbol of recognition, her friends decided not to tell her about the curse because they assumed her husband would remember her anyway. Kanva went back to his ashrama and gave his approval for the union. After the curse took effect, Dushyanta could not recall Shakuntala at all. Shakuntala began to exhibit pregnancy symptoms. Therefore Kanva decided to send her to her legal spouse while outlining the responsibilities of a wife and a daughter-in-law. They had to take a canoe crossing across a river on the way, and Shakuntala stroked her fingers through the water, drawn in by the river's rich blue color. Without her realizing it, her ring?Dushyanta's ring?slipped off her finger. When they arrived at the king's palace, Dushyanta didn't recognize Shakuntala; instead, he feigned shock when the sages with them persuaded him to accept her as his queen.
Shakuntala looked for the ring the king had given her when they parted ways but discovered it had disappeared during the journey. Shakuntala, who is distraught, is carried away by an apsara as they leave the room. After some time, a fisherman found the ring Shakuntala had fallen in a pool of water inside a fish, which was produced before Dushyanta after charges of stealing. When the king saw the ring, Durvasa's curse was broken, and his memory of his wife was revived. He set out immediately to find her, but when he got to her father's ashram, he found she wasn't there anymore. While searching further into the jungle for his wife, he unexpectedly came upon a small kid counting the teeth of a lion whose mouth had been forced open by the youngster. The kid was received by the king, who was astounded by the boy's bravery and fortitude. When the youngster responded that he was Bharata, the son of King Dushyanta, he caught him off guard. The family was reunited when the boy escorted him to Shakuntala.
Reviews form different platforms
Here are some more comments about the movie:
The mythological play Shaakuntalam fails as a whole. There is a terrible absence of drama and the emotions required for a cinematic experience. Poor VFX and action scenes further diminish the impact. This pricey film is a major letdown, save for a few scenes and Samantha's earnest performance.