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I trust in Mani sir: Jayam Ravi on playing Arunmozhi Varman in Ponniyin Selvan-1

The first part of Mani Ratnam's Ponniyin Selvan will hit the screens on September 30.

I trust in Mani sir: Jayam Ravi on playing Arunmozhi Varman in Ponniyin Selvan-1
Jayam Ravi in Ponniyin Selvan 1
  • S Subhakeerthana

Last Updated: 11.40 AM, Oct 04, 2022

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Jayam Ravi's father, editor Mohan, was delighted to watch him as Arunmozhi Varman when the Ponniyin Selvan teaser was out. “Dad recalled the times he rode his bicycle a long distance to get a copy of the book. Now, I play the lead character in a film, based on his favourite novel. This is a great blessing!”

Ravi still does not know why Mani Ratnam finalised him to play Arunmozhi Varman. “When I finally realised I would be portraying the legendary Raja Raja Chola, I was in disbelief. I was happy to see Ponniyin Selvan being made in Tamil at last, but I had no idea I would be a part of it. If I was given this chance, I guess I must have done something good."

Ponniyin Selvan-1 will succeed at the box office, according to the actor. "It is not reasonable to draw any conclusions now. A section of people had unpleasant things to say as they didn't see the whole film. But the good news is that everyone, even the sceptics, wants our movie to succeed."

Jayam Ravi heaped praise on his director, Mani Ratnam. “One man's hard work and vision resulted in the Ponniyin Selvan franchise. Since MGR and Sivaji Ganesan's time, the Kalki Krishnamurthy book has been a bestseller. The novel continues to be quite popular even now, more than 60 years after it was written. Well-known actors and filmmakers made several attempts to adapt the book into a film but gave up in the middle for many different reasons. Being a part of Mani Ratnam's adaptation makes me feel honoured!”

The actor recalls how Mani Ratnam told him details about his role. “I was required to think and act like Arunmozhi Varman. I am not exaggerating but I thought I owned everything in my neighbourhood while sitting on the terrace of my home. I simply trusted in Mani sir, and listened to his inputs.”

The experience of filming Ponniyin Selvan was physically demanding but eventually gratifying, adds Jayam Ravi. “All of the actors would get up at three in the morning and be at the filming location before daybreak throughout the 155 days that it was in production. It was no cakewalk. Everybody was sincere, irrespective of the roles he or she played.”

Ponniyin Selvan poster
Ponniyin Selvan poster

Ask if he is the highest-paid actor in Ponniyin Selvan-1; Jayam Ravi smiles, “We never discussed money. Sincerely, I have no idea how much the others were paid. I don't always think of remuneration in monetary terms. I was happy that I was paid for making wonderful memories and invaluable experiences.”

In addition to Ponniyin Selvan, Jayam Ravi has Siren, Iraivan, and an untitled project with M Rajesh of Siva Manasula Sakthi-fame.

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