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Ponniyin Selvan- 1: Lesser-known facts, plot and much more

The highly-anticipated epic period drama Ponniyin Selvan is set to hit theaters this Friday, the 30th of September. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Mani Ratnam, the film is based on Kalki Krishnamurthy’s eponymous book about the Chola King Arulmozhi. The story is set in the 10th century AD during the heights of the Chola empire.

Ponniyin Selvan- 1: Lesser-known facts, plot and much more

Now You Know

  • Nikhil Kumar

Last Updated: 01.41 PM, Sep 26, 2022

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The highly-anticipated epic period drama Ponniyan Selvan is set to hit theaters this Friday, the 30th of September. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Mani Ratnam, the film is based on Kalki Krishnamurthy’s eponymous book about the Chola King Arulmozhi. The story is set in the 10th century AD during the heights of the Chola empire. Jayam Ravi essays the role of the Chola King Arulmozhi while Tamil superstar Vikram slips into the role of Aditha Karikalan, who was once heir to the throne and the eldest son of King Sundara. Some of the other important characters in this epic include Vallavaraiyan Vanthiyathevan, the brave warrior prince of the Vaanar Clan, Kundhavai, sister to both Arulmozhi and Aditha Karikalan, and Princess Nandhini of the Pazhuvettaraiyar clan who has ambitions to usurp the rulers of the Chola Empire. Karthi plays the role of Vanthiyathevan while Kundhavai is played by Trisha. The formidable Princess Nandhini is essayed by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. So for today’s Now You Know, we take a look at some of the lesser-known facts about Ponniyan Selvan.

  1. The title Ponniyan Selvan translates to Son of Ponni, and the word Ponni is another name for the river Cauvery. The story was initially serialized in a magazine called Kalki before it was compiled into a five-part novel. It is a fictionalized retelling of real events, and it is set between 900 AD and 950 AD. In many ways, the film could be construed as an Indian version of Game of Thrones. If this doesn’t get you excited about this big-budget vehicle, we don’t know what will!
  2. Attempts to adapt this epic story began decades ago when Tamil cinema legend and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MG Ramachandran, popularly known as MGR, was attached to the project in 1958. MGR purchased the film rights to adapt the novel for ₹10,000 which is equivalent to ₹810,000 in today’s economy. He was expected to produce, direct, and star in the film featuring a star-studded ensemble of Gemini Ganesan, Vyjayanthimala, and Padmini. However, before production could commence MGR met with an accident which sidelined him for six months. Plans for the film were eventually dropped despite MGR renewing the rights for another four years.
  3. In fact, Mani Ratnam himself was eager to adapt the story to the silver screen way back in 1994. He confessed in an interview with Filmfare that it was one of his dream projects. He also revealed that he worked with Kamal Haasan on an initial draft of the film after Haasan bought the rights to the novel. But it never materialized at the time due to financial constraints. However, Ratnam revived the project in 2010 along with writer Jeyamohan. Tamil superstar Vijay was cast in lead with Mahesh Babu attached to play the role of Arulmozhi Varman. Actors Arya, Jyothika, Anushka Shetty, and Priyanka Chopra were rumored to be a part of the project. But several logistical and financial hurdles derailed the project yet again.
  4. Although Ponniyin Selvan is about King Arulmozhi Varman, it wouldn’t be unjust to call Vallavarayan Vanthiyathevan the protagonist of the story. Several top actors, including Sivaji Ganesan, MGR, Kamal Haasan, and Rajinikanth, were interested to play the fan favorite character. But the role has ultimately gone to Karthi. Additionally, Vandhiyathevan is the subject of the travel documentary, Paraak Paraak, which features former journalist and writer T.A. Narasimhan travelling through Tamil Nadu and narrating the story of the Chola empire. For those keen to get take in this story and experience the period more closely, Paraak Paraak is available to stream on YouTube.
  5. Few may know this but Bollywood stars Ajay Devgn and Anil Kapoor have important roles in the film too. Though not a starring role like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Devgn and Kapoor have been pulled in to lend their voices for the Hindi version. Kapoor’s voice can be heard in the trailer, whereas Devgn will serve as the sutradhar or the narrator.
  6. Thota Tharani, the film’s production designer, revealed that extensive research has gone into recreating the lost glory of the Chola empire. The attention to detail in each aspect of the set ranged from the grand home décor of the Cholas to the stationery they used. Moreover, Thailand was chosen as one of the locations for filming because the country has dense rain forests and temples that resemble 10th-century Chola architecture.

Well that's the OTTplay Now You Know for today, until the next episode it's your host Nikhil signing out.

Aaj kya dekhoge OTTplay se poocho

  • Written by Arya Harikumar and Ryan Gomez
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