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Ponniyin Selvan - PS 1 Review

Review by IndiaGlitz [ Friday, September 30, 2022 • Tamil ]
Ponniyin Selvan - PS 1 Review
Madras Talkies, Lyca Productions
Vikram, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Karthi, Jayam Ravi, Trisha, Vikram Prabhu, Jayaram, Prabhu, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Sobhita Dhulipala, R. Sarathkumar, R. Parthiban, Prakash Raj, Rahman, Kishore, Ashwin Kakumanu, Arjun Chidambaram, Nizhalgal Ravi, Riyaz Khan, Lal, Mohan Raman, Balaji Sakthivel, Sara Arjun
Mani Ratnam
Mani Ratnam, Allirajah Subaskaran
A. R. Rahman

Ponniyin Selvan 1 - This cinematic spectacle shines bright and satisfies all types of audiences.

'Ponniyin Selvan' is an epic Tamil novel authored by Amarar Kalki. Several stalwarts of Tamil cinema have dreamed of adopting this classic on the big screens but they failed. Legendary director Mani Ratnam is one of those who aspired to adopt Ponniyin Selvan for the silver screen since the 80s. He has done it finally and Ponniyin Selvan is brought to life on screen after almost 70 years by our prestigious artists. Karthi, Chiyaan Vikram, Jayam Ravi, Trisha and Aishwarya Rai have played the main roles with music by AR Rahman. Let's see if the years of wait were justified.

The story opens with Aditha Karikalan (Chiyaan Vikram), the crown prince of the Chola dynasty who is invading the regions in the north of the empire, asking his friend and his army soldier Vallavarayan Vandhiyathevan to spy on the traitors who are conspiring against the throne and deliver it to his father, the king Parantaka Chola II aka Sundara Chola (Prakash Raj) and his sister, princess Kundhavai (Trisha). Vandhiyathevan takes up the mission and meets with unexpected twists and turns in his journey. The assassins from the defeated Pandya empire infiltrate the Chola kingdom and choreograph chaos which leads them to the destruction of the Chola bloodline. Nandhini (Aishwarya Rai), the young wife of the old Periya Pazhuvettarayar (Sarathkumar), is a powerful head of the Chola ministry. Nandhini captivates Pazhuvettarayars and the others with her beauty to conspire against the king. Madhurantaka Chola (Rahman), who has a right to descend the throne, is the key to the conspiracy. Vandhiyathevan was asked to travel to Sri Lanka to meet Arunmozhi Varman aka Ponniyin Selvan as a part of the journey. And all the subplots and conspiracy meet at a high point in Sri Lanka. What happens after all this chaos is what Ponniyin Selvan is all about.

Ponniyin Selvan's biggest accomplishment is staying true to the novel. Mani Ratnam has pulled off his dream project and presented us with a faithful adaptation of the majestic novel. Kudos to the writing team for carefully extracting a brief as well as a detailed screenplay that will be best for the on-screen adaptation without diminishing the novel's essence and without any compromises. Though it is a magnum opus film, we witness a live and organic approach in the making rather than larger-than-life moments to stay true to Kalki's vision.

Karthi feels tailor-made for the Vandhiyathevan and steals the show with humor, brilliance and valor. Chiyaan Vikram and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan have brought Kalki's Aditha Karikalan and Nandhini to life with much ease. Though the two have limited screen time, they made sure that they deliver the best performances among the lot. Trisha puts up a mind-blowing performance as princess Kundhavai who is not just beautiful but also a great mind. Jayam Ravi comes up with one of his career-best performances to play the calm and kind-hearted prince Arunmozhi Varman. 

Sarathkumar proves his acting prowess as a powerful man who is blinded by beauty. Jayaram and Parthiban gave memorable performances as Thirumalaiappan and Chinna Pazhuvettarayar. The rest of the supporting cast including Lal, Vikram Prabhu, Prabhu and Ashwin have added strength to the film.

The making of Ponniyin Selvan is so unique and refreshing. The casting was very good. We have seen a lot of period films in Indian mainstream cinema but the technicians have put their bodies and souls into this movie to give us a never before seen experience. The stunts and battle scenes were choreographed in a manner that they feel so authentic. This is undoubtedly one of the best works of art director Thotta Tharani and music composer AR Rahman. The songs are so perfect for the situations and the background scoring is icing on the cake. Ravi Varman's visuals and Sreekar Prasad's cuts are two strong pillars that enrich Kalki's vision.

We should not forget the man behind 'Ponniyin Selvan' and the captain of the ship Mani Ratnam. The master storyteller did not compromise the novel's authenticity for anything and took us into the tale that takes place a thousand years. The portrayal of Kanchipuram, Kadambur, Thanjavur and Sri Lanka did justice to the novel. Mani Ratnam made the movie enjoyable to both those who have read the novel and those who don't have any clue about the novel. Even some non-readers are so curious to read the book after watching the movie. The runtime of the film doesn't bother the audience much.

On the downside, the movie feels just like quick highlights of the events in the book at some point. The first half of the film unravels beautifully but the later half takes a slow-burning path with very limited high points. The screenplay could have been more exciting to appeal to the audience more. Also, the VFX looks mediocre for a film with such high production value. However, Ponniyin Selvan gives an adrenaline rush to the watchers with its final act and ends with a jaw-dropping cliffhanger for the sequel.

Ponniyin Selvan Part 1 is a convincing and faithful adaptation of the prestigious novel. The best thing about this cinematic spectacle is that it is authentic and good enough to satisfy the audience irrespective of their knowledge of the book. PS 1 is a movie that definitely deserves a theatrical watch for its characters, art, craft, writing and execution.

Verdict: Go for this brilliant visual extravaganza to enjoy a unique experience.

Rating: 3.5 / 5.0

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