|Pic Courtesy: https://www.ottplay.com/|
I recall the time when Ponniyin Selvan, written by Kalki (Kalki Krishnamurthi) used to be published as a weekly series in the magazine Kalki, sometime in my teens. This was the second round that the novel was being published. I tried reading it, but stopped after the first few chapters for whatever reasons. I have tried taking it up again a couple of times, but failed.
When I heard that it was being made into a movie (2 movies), I was too damn thrilled. I thought that finally I would know what the story was all about.
My husband and I have been following a lot of pre-release videos on YouTube and Sunnext platforms regarding Mani Ratnam’s magnum opus. What’s even better is that AR Rahman has created the music for this movie and he has outperformed himself.
Yesterday was my birthday and I was truly excited that my husband and I could watch the film at Carnival Cinemas, Wadala.
What do I think of the movie?
1. It has a stellar star cast: Prabhu, Prakashraj, Sarathkumar, Parthiban, Jayaram, Nassar, Nizhalgal Ravi, Mohan Raman, Jayachithra, Rahman and a few others from the older generation. While the younger generation include Vikram, Karthi, Jayam Ravi, Aishwarya Rai, Trisha Krishnan, Vikram Prabhu, Aishwarya Lekshmi and more. Most importantly, each one has played his/her role to absolute perfection. I think Mr Mani Ratnam deserves a standing ovation for this, definitely.
2. Music by AR Rahman is to die for; absolutely refreshing and different from what he has delivered before now.
3. Cinematography: Aah!!!!! Amazing, Awesome, Splendid! I am simply running out of adjectives here. Fantabulous!
4. The sequences, background, scenes, dialogue: Magnificent!
5. The novel runs to about 2200 pages. Has the scriptwriter/director done justice to it? Absolutely, yes. The film is crisp, concise, and hits the nail on its head.
6. Vikram was stupendous as Aditha Karikalan. Karthi mesmerizes the audience as Vandiyathevan. Trisha appears and behaves as the true royal she is as Kundavai. As for Aishwarya Rai, she makes for a beautiful, but wicked Nandini with a lot of plans. Jayam Ravi is excellent as Ponniyin Selvan (to become Rajaraja Cholan in the future). The rest of the cast have all done superbly well too.
1. The songs from the film are all out there on YouTube, while the movie does not give us everything. Disappointed? Yes, I was. Especially, when the “yele yelelo” song was cut short. The scene, portraying Aishwarya Lekshmi (what little they showed on YT) was so damn sensuous. It was really cruel of the editor to chop off the best chunk of it is what I feel.
2. As a viewer/movie buff, I need to feel connected to the characters. Usually, it’s the one character or maybe two. Rarely do I feel connected to a 3rd one. This is where I am not sure how the audience will receive this film. I wanted to connected to Vandiyathevan (Karthi), but he was there in barely 10% of the film. Vikram as both the war lord and the emotional lover was superb. But there was so little of him in the movie. I can go on and on, but well, the first part of the magnum opus ran for 2 hours 47 minutes and there is only so much one could pack in it, I presume. But that still doesn’t make me want more of it!
I will not compare this film to Bahubali, but to the Harry Potter series. Let me tell you why. Bahubali was scripted to be made into a movie (or 2). Whereas, HP was written as a series of books to begin with. The smartest thing Hollywood did was to make 8 films out of the 7 books. Even then, the fans of the book series felt cheated to some extent. Despite all the opinions running amok, the films were superhits. I loved each one of them too!
This is where I see the flaw in PS 1. Five large books comprised into two films. It seems hurried, with the characters were not given enough opportunity to perform. It’s a wonder that such big names agreed to be a party to this one. But then, that’s probably the magic of Mani Ratnam.
I will go with 4 stars instead of 5 for this. Yes, I will watch it at least once more on the big screen. And will definitely catch it half a dozen more times on Amazon Prime. It offers a lot of rich research material for the historical romance story teller in me.
VERDICT: If you are a movie buff and enjoy historical fiction, especially with most of the characters who had actually lived in India’s history, you should definitely watch this one.