Gauthamiputra Satakarni review: NBK at his best

Story of a great emperor of Telugu land which is told with superb camera work and rich visuals, good graphics, and high production values.

Source: General


Critic's Rating: 3/5

Thursday 12 January 2017

Movie Title

Gauthamiputra Satakarni review: NBK at his best



Star Cast

Nandamuri Balakrishna, Hema Malini, Shriya Saran, Kabeer Bedi

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 this 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.

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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. This made director Krish want 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 spending much time, Krish establishes the story, by directly telling us 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 and battles that he won. Mention of Rajasuya Yagam, the administrative rules he introduced, the marital drama etc. are part of the movie but the main focus is on the 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 but excels in grandeur and detailing. The final battle with Greeks is filmed on a large scale with much passion. While Krish as the director shines with making of the movie, the story writer in him takes a backseat. There is very little in terms of "story" or "twists" in the movie. It is a rather plain screenplay. Other than the war episodes, the scenes are not that appealing. This is the major drawback of the movie.

But Krish has completely relied on visual splendour and some good dialogues 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 showcase visual opulence.

On the downside, the romantic duets, the burrakatha and the song before final war add breaks in 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 make us feel otherwise. 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 fits the role and carried it 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 an impression.

Dialogue writer Sai Madhav Burra has penned perfect dialogues. Chirantan Bhatt's music is okay. With Kanche, director Krish 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.

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 being war-heavy.

Gauthamiputra Satakarni review: 3.25 stars

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