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Feeling blessed to be a part of the Mani Ratnam universe, once again, with Ponniyin Selvan: Karthi

Karthi plays Vanthiyathevan in Mani Ratnam's adaptation of Ponniyin Selvan.

Feeling blessed to be a part of the Mani Ratnam universe, once again, with Ponniyin Selvan: Karthi
Karthi in Ponniyin Selvan-1
  • Team OTTplay

Last Updated: 11.43 AM, Oct 04, 2022


Karthi, who plays Vanthiyathevan, one of the central characters in Mani Ratnam's Ponniyin Selvan-1, says the film is a gift to the younger generation. The first part of the movie hit the screens on September 30.

“The thought of becoming a part of such a prestigious film makes me feel wonderful,” says Karthi, who made his acting debut with Paruthiveeran in 2007. He is made known to audiences outside of the Tamil film community with Mani Ratnam's Ponniyin Selvan-1; based on the 1955 Tamil novel of the same name by Kalki Krishnamurthy. “I feel blessed to be in his universe once again,” adds Karthi.

He started his film journey, assisting Ratnam on the cult hit Ayutha Ezhuthu (2004) and later featured as a lead in Kaatru Veliyidai (2017). “My all-time favourite is Mani sir, a pioneer in the industry. I'm a fan of his understanding of people and emotions as a filmmaker. He educated audiences to be more intelligent and creative. His choice of subjects and the depth to which he explores the minds of his characters are inspiring.”

The movie, which was released in theatres on Friday, chronicles Arulmozhivarman's early life. He was one of the most powerful kings in the South and later rose to become Rajaraja Chola I, the great Chola emperor, in the 10th century. PS-1 features Vikram as Aditha Karikalan, Jayam Ravi as Arulmozhivarman, Trisha Krishnan as Kundavai and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as Nandini.

Since Ponniyin Selvan-1 is Karthi's first-period film, it is equally special for him. He had the opportunity to experience life under the Chola kingdom, one of India's longest-reigning empires.

“As actors, you (always) attempt to put yourself in the position of a new character. But when you work on a period film, you enter a different realm. It seems like a rich world to me, one that you want to explore. The additional benefit is that you get to engage in different activities, like horse riding,” Karthi tells OTTplay.

Further, the actor says, “In our classrooms, we learn more about how foreigners colonised us. But we still consider ourselves Tamilians. If someone asked what made us unique, many of us would be speechless. We wouldn't be aware of the whereabouts of our kings; or how our kingdoms' governments functioned. We must, however, learn about all of these.”

Continuing to give more details of the other achievements of the Chola kings, Karthi adds, “Even foreigners would only travel along a body of water's edges. The Tamilians were the first to discover undercurrents and use them to cross oceans. Many of the government's social programmes in Tamil Nadu were still developed by the Cholas. There are numerous such facts. But people like us who flip videos in 10 seconds don't have the time for them.”

Karthi spoke about Veeranam lake. “Cholas constructed it, which is supplying water to Chennai to suit its needs for drinking water. The lake, which is twenty kilometres long and seven kilometres wide, was constructed by the king with the help of his soldiers. Then, there is the well-known Brihadeeshwarar temple, also known as the Periya Kovil, which stands 216 feet tall without a foundation. I have a lot to say (about the kingdoms and the administrations then). Even now, the Kallanai dam, which they constructed about 2,000 years ago, is intact.”

Karthi in PS-1
Karthi in PS-1

Before wrapping up the conversation, Karthi notes, “Mani sir is giving the next generation a gift by presenting PS-1 in the form of a movie. Without understanding the past, you cannot make history. Young people will watch this (the film) and learn from it. You will feel overwhelmed with pride after seeing the movie. And you want to protect your pride when you feel it. You make progress when you work to keep it.”

Bankrolled by Mani Ratnam's production house Madras Talkies and Allirajah Subaskaran's banner Lyca Productions, Ponniyin Selvan-1, has been released in five languages; Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Hindi.