Ponniyin Selvan Part I Movie Review

Ponniyin Selvan has been the dream project of celebrities including Dr. M.G. Ramachandran and Dr. Kamal Haasan. But finally accomplished director Mani Ratnam became successful in turning the 50s classic into a movie. What is so special about this story that it has caught the attention of filmmakers? Well, this story was written as a continuing story in the acclaimed magazine Kalki by writer Kalki Krishnamurthy between 1950 and 1954. Later, it was compiled as a novel. Readers became so absorbed with the story that they would wait for the next part eagerly. The highlight of the novel is that it consists of real historical incidents.

I watched the movie recently with some knowledge of the story. My friend had briefed me about it before watching the movie. The story has duration of 2 hours and 50 minutes and the second part will release in 2023. The story happens in multiple places and revolves around friendship, love, conspiracy, loyalty etc. It is based on the Chola dynasty. Kamal Haasan ‘s narration at the beginning lends the needed motivation to the movie.

What attracted me most is the BGM and the way in which Mani Ratnam gave credit to music director A R Rahman; he placed the name of the music wizard before his name came in the title. And A R Rahman did full justice to the BGM of the movie. Even a person who could not understand the story or is not inclined to watch such historical films will be attracted by the music. The next thing is the cinematography by Ravi Varman. The visuals are a treat to the eyes. And credit should be given to art director Thotta Tharani for the amazing sets which give a real feel of the yesteryears.

The screenplay lagged in the initial stage but later picked pace. Dialogues are crisp and witty sometimes (credit to Jaya Mohan), and the lion’s share of the dialogues went to Karthi who essayed the role of Vallararayan Vandiyadevar. Vikram as Aditya Karikalan enacted the emotional scenes with his typical charm. Jayam Ravi as Arulmozhi attracts the viewer with his charisma. He is a perfect fit for the role of a charming and humble prince. Jayaram is for the humorous part and does that with ease.  Aishwarya Rai enacting the role of Nandini is at her gorgeous best and she carries herself well in her role. There is a typical expression that she wears throughout the movie that one will not miss. Trisha makes a good comeback after 97 and has been given a meaty role as Kundavai. But the find of the film was Aishwarya Lakshmi (Poonguzhali) who steals the show with her graciousness. The remaining cast does their parts well.

One thing which grabbed my attention was the speech of Mani Ratnam during an event. When asked whether Ponniyin Selvan will be like Baahubali, he honestly replied that it may not be as spick and span as Baahubali or Padmavat but does justice to Kalki’s story Ponniyin Selvan. For those who have been great fans of the story, this is indeed a good attempt because the movie has to live up to their expectations. Moreover, the novel is rooted in the ethos of the culture and it takes courage and sensibility to make it as a movie. And Mani Ratnam has accomplished this with aplomb.

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