Movie Review – Ponniyin Selvan PS-1

The much awaited Mani Ratnam movie Ponniyin Selvan was released just before we started on our trip in 2022. We couldn’t watch it in Delhi as it was the Hindi version and I cannot bring myself to watch it in Hindi when I know it’s a Tamil movie. We finally watched it at home on TV just a few days back.

There are lots of reviews available already and I am not sure if I will add anything to them. But I have to write the review as the topic is close to my heart :). So here goes –

Ponniyin Selvan – What’s Good

  1. The editing is brilliant. Don’t remember who the editor is but simply great editing … the changing scenes just woven together seamlessly.
  2. Camera work – the entire Lankan portion is so stunning that you just wish to travel right away and see the location for yourself.
  3. Mani Ratnam has more or less followed the great Kalki’s magnum opus for the script …. the story does deviate from the book a little but we can ignore that.
  4. Language used is fantastic. You feel like you are hearing people from 800 years ago.

The list of things that have to be improved/changed is much longer :(.

What’s Not Good

Ponniyin Selvan movie
Vikram and Karthi as Aditha Karikalan and Vandiyathevan … terrible casting errors.
  1. Casting has failed miserably. Aditha Karikalan was a young warrior, Vikram in that role looks jaded and every bit his actual age. Aishwarya Rai is stunning as always but she again looks old and Nandini was younger than Aditha Karikalan.
  2. Sundara Chola got the name “Sundara” because he was very handsome. From which angle did Mani Ratnam find Prakash Raj fit for that role ? Prakash Raj looks like a thug with the leonine mane, forced into being a King. No presence as Sundara Chola. Mani Ratnam could have used Vikram or Rahman or Arvind Swamy for that role as they all are good looking and old.
  3. Using Jayam Ravi for Ponniyin Selvan, the man who became the greatest Chola emperor Raja Raja Chola is actually insulting. Jayam Ravi looks like a meat slab with an iffy smile pasted on his face !!! We are talking of a great warrior and one of the greatest emperors in history.
  4. Vandiyathevan again is a great warrior …. reducing him to a road side Romeo who keeps lusting after every girl he meets is just terrible. Kalki says Vandiyathevan has a glad eye and a silver tongue. That’s very different from the way Karthi played the role.
  5. The worst casting error is putting in Rahman as Madurantakan. Remember he was Nandini’s twin – Rahman just doesn’t have the looks to be Madurantakan. Again Rahman looks really jaded.
  6. Songs – terrible selection of songs and why make Aditha Karikalan and Vandiyathevan dance ? The movie would have been fine with just the “koothu” songs. The background score deflates several scenes.
Ponniyin Selvan - Movie
Aishwarya Rai as Nandini – age does show, even though she continues to be a showstopper and absolutely gorgeous.
Ponniyin Selvan movie
Jayam Ravi with the “iffy” smile as Ponniyin Selvan. Sad.

Am disappointed that Mani Ratnam has not taken the effort to find the right actors. Have been a huge fan of his and I have always loved his attention to details. This movie lacks that. We are talking of great warriors and there is recorded history about them …. it seems to be an attempt to reduce them to caricatures that dance on cue to badly composed songs in the name of creativity, just unacceptable and terribly sad.

There is precedence ofcourse, the great Ashoka was made into a caricature and someone who dances half naked by Bollywood.

Our movie makers don’t seem to know how to translate history into a movie without adding their special unwanted touch.

Do read my book review based on which this movie has been made – Book Review – Ponniyin Selvan #1.

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