Kalki Krishnamurthy's epic novel Ponniyin Selvan is not attempted to make as a film by any filmmaker so far owing to its vastness. Critically acclaimed filmmaker finally makes the dream into reality. Mani Ratnam brings his most ambitious Ponniyin Selvan 1 (PS 1) which is out in theatres today. It is made with ensemble cast includes Jayam Ravi, Vikram, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Karthi, Trisha Krishnan, Prakash Raj, Sarathkumar, Prabhu, Sobhita Dhulipala, Aishwarya Lekshmi and et al. Let's check out what PS1 is about.
Aaditha Kariakala (Vikram) and Ponniyan Selvan aka Arunmozhi (Jayam Ravi) are the successors of Chola throne. Their father and emperor Sundara Chola (Prakash Raj) is old and sick. Aaditha and Arun are warriors known for their valour and courage. They are undefeated champions. Aaditha is expected to be coronated as the emperor. This doesn't go well with elder cousin Madhurantaka (Rahman) who conspire against Aaditha and Arunmozhi with the support of Pazhuvettarayar (Sarath Kumar), his beautiful wife Nandini (Aishwarya Rai) and other kings in the region. Meanwhile, Pandyas are Cholas enemies who vowed to wipe out them. Vallavaraya (Karthi), the right-hand man of Aaditha Karikala, is on his mission fighting the enemies. Chola Princess Kundavi (Trisha) tries to save her brothers with her mastermind. How Cholas fight the internal and external enemies of the throne forms the crux of the story.
Vikram is seen as powerful emperor. He shows his mark. Jayam Ravi shines in his parts. He gets the titular role who is equally powerful and dynamic. It is Karthi who dominates the screen presence. He carries off the film on his shoulders. His role has humour touch which gives relief in this serious film. Aishwarya Rai is a treat to watch. She adds glamour and performance to the film. So is Trisha. Both have got roles with substance. Sobhita Dhulipala gets limited role. Yet she gets recognised. Sarath Kumar has got meaty character. Prakash Raj, as usual, delivers what is expected from him. All the actors does their parts well, thus making the film with engaging performances.
Ponniyan Selvan has rich story, culture and heritage. It has got best cast and technical team. Ravi Varman's visuals are appealing. However, AR Rahman's songs fail to engage. Background score is alright. Editing could be crisp.
Cast & Scale
Lack Of Emotion
Mani Ratnam has never attempted a historical epic. So, it is indeed challenge for a genius filmmaker to make Ponniyan Selvan. He decided to make the epic in two parts. The film has so many characters that it is hard to get connected and empathise with their emotions. The nativity of Tamil is so evident that it makes Telugu audience disconnect.
The film starts with a war episode showcasing Aaditha's war skills. The film dives into the story. However, introduction of several new characters obstruct the flow of the film's narration. The flirting of Vallavaraya with Nandini and Kundavi is distasteful and overdone. The humour with Vaishnavite didn't work. The film's narration is lengthy. Screenplay is flat.
What saves Ponniyan Selvan is the film's cast and performances. The action episodes are shot well. The boat fight that comes in the latter half is arresting. The film lacks Mani Ratnam's trademark scenes. The compairsons with Rajamouli's Baahubali are natural. But PS 1 is no where close to Baahubali in terms of emotion and grandeur.
Though Ponniyan Selvan is historic film, Mani should had relied on fiction to make it more engaging. The climax is emotional. It sets the tone and mood for the second part (PS 2).
Verdict: Ponniyan Selvan has cast and scale. The historic action film is filled with drama but lacked emotion. It is a lengthy watch. Go for some frames of Mani Ratnam, visuals and stellar performances.