The play Abhijnanasakuntalam is an elegant blend of romance and fairy tale with elements of comedy. It achieves a gradual movement towards a hetero-normative marriage and the emergence of a son to complete its journey from its initial story of enchantment where mortals and celestial beings fall in unrestrained love.
While Shakuntala, the heroine of the play represents the natural world, the King represents the world of martial conquest. The characters of this play are not fully individualised, that is, they contain symbolic, ritualistic and non-realistic essentials in their personalities.
Such characterization occurs because of a fact that Romila Thapar points out, “In a significant departure the epic heroine is trifurcated into the female trio of Abhijnanasakuntalam as Kalidas introduces two new characters, Anasuya and Priyamvada, as Shakuntala’s companions.” While Priyamvada becomes the sweet talking one, Anasuya serves as the character doing all the action or performing the social activities of the ‘Ashram’.
Similarly Kalidas creates Madhavya, the close friend of King Duhsanta who can be seen as a parallel to Anasuya and Priyamvada, companions of Shakuntala. Though Madhavya is a stock figure of Sanskrit drama, Kalidas utilizes him as a subversive element in the play to question all the dominant discourses. In a way the multiple challenges obstructing the King’s virtue or his ‘dharma’ are in the form of individuals like Madhavya, Anasuya and Shakuntala since all of them are engaged in questioning his all powerful patriarchal control over the world of the Drama.
According to Chandra Rajan, “the ‘vidusaka’ or jester in Sanskrit drama is the close friend and companion of the hero. He performs two functions in the play which are related to the two meanings contained in the word: a figure of fun who excites laughter by his odd appearance and manner...