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Mani Ratnam's Ponniyin Selvan teaser launch to be held in Thanjavur next month

Making Ponniyin Selvan has been the dream of many personalities, including MGR and Kamal Haasan.

  • S Subhakeerthana

Last Updated: 02.33 AM, Jun 12, 2022

Mani Ratnam's Ponniyin Selvan teaser launch to be held in Thanjavur next month
Ponniyin Selvan poster; Thanjavur Big Temple

If the industry grapevine is anything to go by, the teaser launch of Mani Ratnam's adaptation of Ponniyin Selvan will likely happen in the Brihadeeswara temple aka the famous 'Big Temple' (Peria Kovil) in Thanjavur. Unconfirmed sources say the event will take place by the first week of July, followed by an audio launch in August. However, we await an official confirmation.

We hear Mani Ratnam is planning to bring the entire cast and crew of Ponniyin Selvan to the temple built by Arulmozhi Varman aka Raja Raja Chola, for the teaser launch, as it adds immense significance to the universe of the film. The 1000-year-old temple, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987, is said to be a miracle of engineering; considering the technology of those ancient times. Every feature of the temple is larger-than-life including the deities.

The Ponniyin Selvan franchise will hit the screens in two parts; with the second one, releasing next year. This is what a source told OTTplay when asked about the rumours of the film getting postponed to January 13, 2023. “If everything goes according to plan, the Tamil, Telugu and Hindu trailers of Ponniyin Selvan will be launched in the first week of September. Our team is working towards the release date, which is September 30, 2022.”

Mani Ratnam's Ponniyin Selvan adaptation will feature Jayam Ravi as Raja Raja Chola, Karthi as Vallavarayan Vandhiyathevan, Trisha as Kundavai, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as both Nandini and Mandakini Devi and Vikram as Aditya Chola II aka Aditya Karikalan. The rest of the supporting cast includes Jayachitra, Prakash Raj, Vikram Prabhu, Prabhu, Sarathkumar, Ashwin Kakumanu, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Sobhita Dhulipala, Riyaz Khan; and Malayalam actors Rahman, Lal and Jayaram.

Shot in several places, including Thailand, Madhya Pradesh, Hyderabad and Pollachi, the film has a screenplay by Jeyamohan, Elango Kumaravel and Mani Ratnam himself.

Bankrolled by Lyca Productions and Madras Talkies, the Ponniyin Selvan franchise has music by AR Rahman, editing by Sreekar Prasad, cinematography by Ravi Varman, art direction by Thota Tharrani, costumes by Eka Lakhani, make-up by Vikram Gaikwad and choreography by Brinda. Sources involved in the project said this would be a big-budget film requiring over Rs 200 crore.

Mani Ratnam’s last theatrical release was Chekka Chivantha Vaanam in 2018. Besides, he presented the Netflix anthology Navarasa with Jayendra Panchapakesan in 2021. Up next, the maverick director will most likely direct a film in Hindi. For now, OTTplay knows the script work is going on.

Interestingly, lyricist Vairamuthu isn't a part of Ponniyin Selvan. Hearsay is that he has been dropped from the project, following multiple sexual harassment complaints. Courtesy: MeToo movement.

Set in the 10th century, Ponniyin Selvan captures the power struggle between different branches of the Chola empire, which was the most prosperous one at that time. Ponniyin Selvan is a fictionalised account of Chola King Raja Raja I and was published in the popular Tamil weekly Kalki, by celebrated writer R Krishnamurthy. Later, the novel was published in five volumes.

Actor Karthi assures Mani Ratnam's adaptation of Ponniyin Selvan will be nothing like anything our cinema has seen so far. Speaking about Ponniyin Selvan, he told Cinema Express how this Covid-induced lockdown had helped him discover the reader in him. “Appa (Sivakumar) got me access to a lot of rare books, some of which are not even in circulation. That helped me in the prep work of the film.”

He said, “Kalki has beautifully described the administration, lifestyle and even the kind of irrigation practised then. Mani sir's version will capture the essence of the novel, and the screenplay ensures that each of the main characters is given equal importance.” Karthi, further, added he was stunned to read about such a sophisticated standard of living almost 1000 years ago.

Making Ponniyin Selvan has been the dream of many personalities, including MGR and Kamal Haasan. It was the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, who announced that he would produce Ponniyin Selvan as a film in 1958. At that time, he paid Rs 10,000 towards the film rights of the novel. But, for unknown reasons, he could not produce it.

Notably, Ponniyin Selvan is also getting made into a web series. Titled Puthu Vellam: Ponniyin Selvan, it will stream on MX Player Original. Presented by Soundarya Rajinikanth, it is scripted and directed by Sharath Jothi.

Likewise, some time ago, Ajay Pratheeb announced a 125-episode series titled Chiranjeevi Ponniyin Selvan, which has music by Ilaiyaraaja.