PONNIYIN SELVAN (PS-1) REVIEW

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Kalki’s magum opus novel Ponniyin Selvan is now in the form of movie directed by Maniratnam creating lot of enthusiasm amongst both the original novel lovers and the young group who did not read the novel. There are thousands and thousands of people who have read the original Kalki’s novel many times – some even 20 times or more.

MGR and Kamalhasan both wanted to make this film but could not due to different reasons and now Maniratnam has attempted this. While this attempt in itself is a great effort, after seeing the movie, people like me could not digest several facts.

In the Kalki’s FIVE volume 2500 page novel, he has attempted to bring several facts about the Chozhas, especially about Raja Raja Chozha (Ponniyin Selvan) and his style of administration. In the novel Vandhiyadevan (real character who married the Chozha princess Kundhavai) was the hero. The entire story was built through Vandhiyadevan’s journey from Kanchipuram to Thanjavur, Pazhayarai and Sri Lanka. Kalki built the novel taking in to account the mystery murder of Adithya Karikalan, the crown prince of Chozha Kingdom and trying to give an interesting novel with this plot.

For the purpose of interest Kalki has created certain characters like Alwarkadiyan, Nandhini, Sendhan Amudhan, Poonguzhali, Karuthiruman and others mixing these characters with the original story and presented an interesting novel.

Though Maniratnam (to a certain extent) and many reviews says Maniratnam has tried to follow the novel as much as possible, there are several several differences between the novel and the movie. I can agree that a 2500 page FIVE volume novel content cannot be embedded in a five hour two part movie, that too with at least 20 novel characters each of whom had important roles to play.

But the main fact is, Kalki has portrayed Vandhiyadevan as a youth with some kind of ambition, over enthusiastic sometimes with “Jagajala Thanthira Manthira Vithai” (the ability to sail through difficulties through his talent – many times due to luck and with help from Alwarkadiyan – the Spy of Spy). Kalki also brought before the readers the greenery, the rivers, the administration and other facts through Vandhiyadevan. Kalki also has provided details of various charities done during Chozha period such as Athurasalai (hospitals) and Nivantham (Donations to temples).

The movie completely missed these facts which are the essential part of the story to bring the Chozha dynasty facts before the audience. The movie also shows Vandhiyadevan, Adhithya Karikalan and Ponniyin Selvan involving in several fights whereas the Kalki novel though mentioning about the past fights never described any fights involving Karikalan, Ponniyin Selvan and Vandhiyadevan. Instead the Kalki novel provides an intellectual description of Vandhiyadevan through his journey where he is finding out the secrets of Pandiya Kingdom soldiers and others trying to kill the Chozhas. In the novel Vandhiyadevan finding out the secret meeting Kundhavai escaping various troubles through his various skills with help from Alwarkadiyan and Sendhan Amudhan.

The Movie completed missed providing the details of Nivandham & Athura Salai and many such things thus completely failed in bringing about the glory of Chozha rule. Instead the movie only provides various fighting scenes – at least three – portraying Adhithya Karikalan, Ponniyin Selvan and Vandhiyadevan as warriors, not like how Kalki has created. Kalki’s Ponniyin Selvan never entered even a single war instead Kalki portrayed Ponniyin Selvan as one who wanted to make this Country prosperous, dreaming something big.

Similarly the movie completed omitted Alwarkadiyan, the Spy of Spy and his many activities instead converting him as a comedian. Vandhiyadevan & Alwarkadiyan in the novel tried to pull secrets from each other while maintaining a decent friendship in the beginning before becoming very close in the later part of the novel. The movie projects Vandhiyadevan insulting Alwarkandiyan like immersing his head in to the river kind of scenes which is not acceptable. Alwarkadiyan as per the Kalki novel is one of the most important character.

Similarly the movie completely omitted the role of “Anirudhha Brahmarayar” the boss of Alwarkadiyan, who is the one who knows almost everything. The movie also omitted the important roles of Sendhan Amudhan and Poonguzhali and both of them have very limited roles to play.

The role of Mandhahini is yet to come. This character needs a flashback story otherwise the audience cannot understand the story fully. Let us wait and see how this character is evolving in the movie.

In the Kalki’s original novel, though Kundhavai & Vandhiyadevan both fell on love with each other right at the beginning, Kundhavai never openly said that until the end at the same time Vandhiyadevan could not tell that openly. This is one of the very interesting secret (!!!) of the novel. Whereas the movie completely destroyed this and Kundhavai openly says that she is waiting for Vandhiyadevan right at the beginning openly conveying here love. This is also not acceptable for novel lovers.

And the movie says Karuthiruman is out not in the jail as described in the novel. Karthiruman is the ONLY ONE who is aware of the BIRTH SECRET involving Nandhini and the Madhranthakan – not even Aniruddha Brahmarayar or Alwarkandiyan aware of this. The only other persons to know this secret are two sisters, both of whom are deaf & dumb by birth. But Aniruddha Brahmarayar is aware that Karuthiruman is aware about the existence of one of these Deaf & Dumb lady. That is the reason Karuthiruman was put into the Jail by the Prime Minister of Chozha Aniruddha Brahmarayar. As per the movie if Karuthiruman is out then he could have told the secret right at the beginning and there is no meaning for the entire story at all.

Two important songs – One by Sendhan Amudhan “Ponnar Meniyane” and the other by Pooguzhali “Alaikadalum Ointhirukka Akakdalthaan Ponguvadhen” are missing. Sendhan Amudhan, the very important character of the novel and the entire movie, needs lot of time. In the PS-1 move he has not got enough time and no proper intro about this character which is going to be the number 1 in the next volume.

Also some of the previous time were wasted in the movie. At least two fighting scenes could have been avoided and that time should have been used for providing other important details.

There is no reason provided why Karuthiruman and Mandhiravaadhi Ravidasan are meeting the Sri Lanka king Mahindhan. No purpose and waste of time.

Maniratnam has changed the story to suit his style. He has introduced three fighting scenes, I think, to satisfy the star status of the actors Vikram, Karthi and Jeyam Ravi. If unknown or lesser known actors were used, Maniratnam could have made the film with more details about the Chozhas.

Coming to the acting, Vikram to a certain extent meeting the Adhithya Karikalan role by displaying kind of anger and frustration as per the novel. While Karthi tried to be like Vanddhiyadevan, Maniratnam has not allowed him as he has changed the story completely. Jeyam Ravi while physically okay for the role of Ponniyin Selvan with his color and smiling face, was not at all utilised properly as he was shown only as a warrior and omitting the various detailed discussion he used to have with Vandhiyadevan & Alwarkadiyan about his dreams, etc.,

And Jeyaram, 100% perfect choice for the role of Alwarkadiyan, is a complete failure due to the Director as his important role is completely minimised.

In the Kalki’s novell Vandhiyadevan & Alwarkadiyan were the two characters who travels across the entire story. While Vandhiyadevan enthralls the readers with his youthful actions, Alwarkadiyan, the Spy of Spy, just made the readers fell in love with his intellectualism and spying. Alwarkadiyan role in the novel was a MAGIC without LOGIC while the in the movie is TRAGIC.

Nandhini character did not get sufficient time to display the love, anger, revenge and thus the audience cannot understand the motive behind Nandhini’s role.

Kundhavai character did not also get sufficient time. Kundhavai, the princess, said to be the one who has run the Government at that time, needed more time to display the role’s characteristic brilliance, mindset, administrative capability, etc.,

Similarly the role of Kudanthai Jothidar was completely omitted in the movie. His role in the novel was interesting and the first meeting of Vandhiyadevan and Kundhavai happening at his place is an interesting one.

I can understand ALL THE NOVEL contents cannot be in the movie considering time restriction. But some important roles are missing, some important facts are omitted, some knowingly done errors, etc., have made this film different from the original Ponniyin Selvan of kalki.

Someone has asked Maniratnam to put the name Ponniyin Selvan as “Kalki’s Ponniyin Selvan” in the title card as against the Original Story by Kalki title card. Maniratnam has knowingly put it like that as the movie far far away from the original story of Kalki. He has only taken main character names from Kalki and hence it is good in a way not using the title name as “Kalki’s Ponniyin Selvan”.

The movie has not done justice to neither Kalki’s original novel nor in brining the Chozha dynasty & its glory. The movie is just another one with heroism like other usual Tamizh movies.

Maniratnam and his team could have won the race with huge collections, but they have failed in making this novel in to a beautiful movie.

Thank God! Kalki is no more!!!! Otherwise he would have write an Editorial in Kalki against a movie done with his own novel!!!!!

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