Cast: Nandamuri Balakrishna, Sriya Saran, Hema Malini
This Sankranti has been phenomenal at the box office as two of the biggest stars came up with their landmark films — Chiranjeevi’s 150th film and Balakrishna’s 100th film, ‘Gautamiputra Satakarni’.
Balakrishna’s film deals with the Telugu ruler Satakarni, about whom not much is known. Directed by Krish Jagarlamudi, the film generated a lot of buzz for its treatment and its impressive trailers.
The story follows the life of Satakarni (Balakrishna), who rules from his capital Amaravathi, with the dream of uniting the country under one umbrella. When he turns five, he promises his mother (Hema Malini) that he will fulfil this dream and spends most of his life in war.
The first win is Kalyanadurgam, from where he shifts his focus to Saurashtra. There, he sends a letter to Sahapanudu (Kabir Bedi) to accept his rule. Sahapanudu has a strong army and decides to fight him, he also sets a condition, that should Satakarni lose, he would have to surrender his five-year-old son to him. Satakarni goes to war with his son in tow. His wife Vasishta Devi (Shriya Saran) finds out about this, and does not agree with her husband’s move of taking their son to the war. How Satakarni wins over Sahapanudu is an interesting battle. After this win, he decides to fight against the Greek kings in a last war, but enemies crop up within his circle and try to eliminate him. How he establishes the Satavahana rule with several challenges forms the crux of the story. It’s a daring step taken by director Krish, as everyone has only read about Satakarni in textbooks. It’s not easy to enthrall the audience with a historic subject unless you make it interesting. But a big pat on Krish’s back, for completing the film in a short time and for coming up with good visuals.
Krish establishes Satakarni’s character in an interesting manner and conveys the message in a crisp way. The film does not drag at any point. It begins with a war and ends with one, where Satakarni wins against the Greek king Demetrius. He has also captured the emotions of the family, especially when for instance when Satakarni’s wife is against sending her son to the war. The war episodes are shot well too.
Balayya has selected a good subject for his landmark film. Balakrishna delivers a stellar performance as he completely immerses himself in the character. The way he renders the dialogues and emotes, reiterates the point that he is the right person to portray historical characters. Shriya Saran performs on par with Balakrishna. Hema Malini essays her role with ease, and adds weight to the character of the mother. Kannada superstar Shivaraj Kumar appears in a cameo and stuns in it.
The other highlights of the film are the music and cinematography. Chirantan Bhatt, the music director has composed the songs well.
Cinematography by Gnanasekhar is one of the pillars of the film as he has shot all the war episodes with grandeur, while keeping them interesting and believable. Dialogues by Burra Sai Madhav are thought-provoking and evoke strong feelings. “Adhamulam kadu pradhamulam, badugu jaathi kadu Telugu jaathi...” is one such example of a powerful dialogue.
Gautamiputra Satakarni is an original story and everyone, especially the Telugu population, should know about it. Krish should be appreciated for coming up with a script like this and narrating it in interestingly. The film is also memorable for its content and the excellent performance by Balayya.