As I sit down to write this review, 40 mins after the film finished, I am still wondering what made them choose Hema Malini for the role of Gautami. Anyway, more on that later.
I do have not so good things to say about this film but the good things that I have to say about this film should make you watch it if you have not already. Sweet before sour, so here goes:
First best thing: Dialogues. Sai Madhav Burra, take a bow! What a marvelous job! The lines are consistently first-rate and had we been fortunate enough to live in the times of Saatakarni, I am thoroughly convinced that we would have heard a language very much akin to what Burra has rendered here. And who better to deliver them than NBK? That brings me to the second first best thing in the movie. Yep, two firsts. Face it. (Remember our ranking system in schools?)
Second first best thing: Baalayya. Now, I called up a friend in the intermission and he asked what I liked about the film thus far and I said, “Baalayya is the best part of it so far”. I was met with, “Baalayya best part endi ra?” from his side. Now, I have problems with Baalayya romancing with chicks half his age, and his characters doing the numerous unimaginable and impossible “Baalayya scenes”. This is largely because of of the fact that these things are not befitting his caliber or stature or image or whatever. You get my point? That said, I love theman when he does what he does best. I think we must give it to him – there are scenes written just for him. Exactly a year ago when I reviewed Dictator, I slammed the film but maintained that Baalayya has his moments and he nails them. There are films like this one that deserve nothing less than NBK himself.
There was never really a dull moment in the first half. The second derailed a bit here and there but everything came back on track soon enough. The movie felt longer than it actually is, blame it on a couple of unnecessary songs. Also, it doesn’t seem like it on the surface but the film did have a lot of details, trivia and other important, interesting information that was only briefly mentioned in a few fleeting seconds thanks to run-time considerations but I would recommend, to myself and those of you interested, further reading about Saatakarni. You could start here:
The war scenes are sometimes clumsy and convenient and at other times, good. Shriya Saran is believable and Sunitha Upadrashta does a neat job dubbing for the actress. Others in supporting roles are alright.
It’s been an hour since I walked out of the theater. I am still wondering, “WHY Hema Malini?” Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that the Dream Girl doesn’t look royal and doesn’t make her presence felt. She just isn’t CONVINCING as Gautami Baalaasri. She isn’t a familiar face to me anymore, at least in the Telugu cinema, and that’s where probably I lost the connect. She wasn’t remarkable either. Add to it her lip-sync.
Would I watch this film again? Probably not. Would I recommend a viewing? Certainly yes. Was Baalayya in his fine form? Yes. Why Hema Malini? I still don’t know.
I’m going with 3.75 out of 5 for Gautamiputra Saatakarni.