Director: V. Shantaram; Writer: Dewan Sharar, Kalidasa; Producer: V. Shantaram; Cinematographer: V. Avadhoot; Cast: Jayashree, Chandramohan, Nimbalkar, Zohra, Shantarin, Vidya, Kumar Ganesh, Raja Pandit, Vilas, Amina, Nana Paliskar, Madan Mohan, Ratanpiya
Summary: Having quit the Prabhat Studio, Shantaram inaugurated his new company with this costumed adaptation of Kalidasa’s 3rd-C. play. The beautiful Shakuntala (Jayashree) gets pregnant following a romance with King Dushyanta (Chandramohan), but she is rejected when she arrives at his royal court. Abandoned, she bears a son, Bharat (Ganesh), in the forest. When a repentant Dushyanta comes to take her back she refuses, using the same language with which she had been evicted, but the two are eventually reconciled. Shantaram writes that the venture was a major gamble, made during WW2 and in a changed film- industry context. Both the future of his new studio as well as his reputation depended on its success, established when the film became a major hit running for 104 consecutive weeks. Shantaram intended the birth of Bharat to symbolise the newly independent India. The film remains one of the best-known adaptations of the literary classic, and has a quaint period flavour as an early instance of the director’s highly decorative use of neo- classical design, which later degenerated into garish calendar art. A 76’ version was released in the USA, where Life magazine saw it as having a ‘touch of William Tell’.