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'GPSK' Review: Laudable Attempt

Movie: Gauthamiputra Satakarni
Rating: 3/5
Cast:
Nandamuri Balakrishna, Shriya, Hema Malini, Kabir Bedi and others
Dialogues: Saimadhav Burra
Cinematographer: Gnanashekhar 
Art: Bhupesh Bhupathi
Lyrics: Sirivennela Sitarama Shastri
Fights: Ram Lakshman
Music: Chirantan Bhatt
Producers: Y Rajiv Reddy, Jagarlamudi Saibabu
Director: Krish
Release date: Jan 12, 2017

One of the most-awaited movies in recent times is Nandamuri Balakrishna's "Gautamiputra Satakarni" which happens to be his 100th movie, a major milestone in his long career. Since the movie was about the great Telugu emperor Satakarni who ruled a major part of India from Amaravathi (in current Andhra Pradesh), the movie generated a lot of curiosity.  

Director Krish who has made some memorable movies like "Gamyam" and "Kanche" further created huge expectations on the movie after releasing a stunning trailer. So, has this historical movie lived up to expectations?

Story:
Satakarni ruled most parts of India (primarily Deccan region) in the 2nd century. Story begins with Satakarni, the emperor, winning yet another battle and bringing another province under his rule. He aims to bring various states/rajyas under one rule and unite them as one country. Although his wife Vasishta Devi doesn't like his war-spree, his mother Balasri supports him.

After winning a major battle against western king Nahapana, he prepares to fight against external forces such as Greek King Demetrius. But this fight is not going to be on a small scale. Can Satakarni win this battle?

Artistes’ Performances:
Among today's actors, Nandamuri Balakrishna is popular for playing such historical figures and kings as he is best suited for such characters. In the role of emperor, Balakrishna gives one of the best performances of his career. His command over grandhika Telugu is an asset to the character. Although he looked too old for the role, he managed to cover the loophole with his acting.

Shriya as his wife has given her best. As a mother of two kids, she hates wars but she has to perform her dharma. She portrayed this dilemma well.

Hemamalini does not have a substantial role but the senior actress is perfect in her role as mother of Satakarni. Kabir Bedi is wasted in the film.

The movie has many other actors but they hardly make an impact. The actress who has played the role of Greek dancer gets noticed.

Technical Excellence:
Undoubtedly, extraordinary camerawork, production values, artwork, production design and graphics have brought the film, a  rich appeal. The film was completed in just seven months. Despite such short time available, Krish has extracted best output from his technicians.

Gnana Sekhar's excellent cinematography is the major highlight, he has filmed war sequences with aplomb. His eye for detailing has made the frames perfect. The movie has superb art work and graphical output. Visual effects in war sequences are terrific.

Songs are a huge drawback to the film. But background score by Chirantan Bhatt has helped a bit. Among other technicians Burra Sai Madhav shines as his dialogues were the main pillar to the movie.

Highlights:
Excellent Visuals
Cinematography
Sai Madhav's dialogues
Balakrishna's charisma

Drawbacks:
Lack of gripping screenplay and story
Shivaraj Kumar's burra katha
Climax

Analysis:
This is the first time that the story of Satakarni was filmed. Not many people in the current generation are aware of this part of history before the announcement of this film. Before talking about the film, we must appreciate Krish for coming up with this idea about the early history of Amaravati  and Telugu people.

As the titles start rolling, a voice conversation between Satakarni who was just a child and his mother is heard. Satakarni asks why people indulge in wars, his mother replies - wars happen because of rulers, not because people want them and she goes on to explain that various other rajyas are constantly squabbling among themselves. Then the child Satakarni vows to unite all rajyas and bring them under one rule.

After he becomes king, he is always at war, winning the battles. So, Krish directly begins the story of the movie with a war and introduces Satakarni to the audiences in the midst of a war. The first war is fought on sea. This gives the first glimpse of the grandness of the movie.

After introduction of Satakarni, the story moves along with the drama between Satakarni and his wife and soon another war happens. In this war, Satakarni takes his four - five years-old son to the battlefield. This war sequence is lengthy. While the canvas is huge, and it was filmed in a terrific way, the episode doesn't impress us as there is no drama. In this lengthy sequence, when Balakrishna talks about Telugu jaati, you think about clapping but the episode is stretched beyond a point.

By interval he accomplishes the mission of uniting all the rajyas. So post-interval there is not much story. And soon the movie proceeds to the final battle - Satakarni's war against Demetrius. While this final battle is also lengthy, there is a drama to some extent.

On the whole, we get the feeling that there is not much story to tell, as the hero is constantly at the war front. There are no major twists or turns in the life story of this emperor. Hence, the movie though  visually appealing is lacking in drama.

What works in big way apart from visuals are dialogues. They are written beautifully by Sai Madhav and also mouthed by Balakrishna effectively.

As this is about our Telugu people's rich heritage and history, we should applaud Krish for attempting to tell this story. Krish could have concentrated more on story , dramatic moments and Balakrishna’s make -up.

All in all, despite many flaws "Gautamiputra Satakarni" makes a good watch as it is made with rich visuals and the story is about an unsung Telugu emperor. 

Bottom-line: Balayya's Show

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