Ponniyin Selvan 1 (PS1) Movie Review
A clean and green period epic from Mani Ratnam that surely satisfies!
Story & Narration
Technical Aspects & Music
Mani Ratnam’s long time dream of bringing Ponniyin Selvan to the big screens have come true finally, and the film has indeed delivered on all fronts to present a period epic on screen.
Ponniyin Selvan’s big tough job is the concise the weight of the five novels into just two films, and the fact that Mani Ratnam had to stuff in the story of more than two novels into one film is a mammoth task in itself. But without creating any confusion or doubt, the writer and his team skilfully put together important incidents from the book and make it an engrossing watch altogether. Driven majorly by dialogues, battles fought inside the head and characters who have different aims coming together as one, Ponniyin Selvan 1 has a very realistic and rooted approach in its storytelling as opposed to a cinematic set of highs that one would want from such period films. In order to stay connected to the novel at all times, Mani Ratnam ensures that his film catapults all the main points from the novel and brings together an engaging narrative. However, this also moves away from the potential wow moments that the film could have created in a period zone, as we get a rather dramatic train of events than highs for the characters onscreen.
Ponniyin Selvan benefits big from its ensemble star cast who have all done justice to the characters given to them – Karthi is undoubtedly the show stealer as Vanthiyathevan, stitching together all the characters of the film and making it as entertaining as possible. Vikram showcases pain superbly, though his scenes are overloaded with dialogues and screams all through. Jayam Ravi is a bit of a surprise as he has a calm and likeable presence in the film, playing the young prince. However, the film finds its biggest treasures in its heroines – Aishwarya Rai is excellent playing Nandini, and emotes her part so well while Trisha has an angelic part to play and does not even have one misstep in her way.
Ponniyin Selvan 1 has a very good support star led by a superb Jayaram, Prakash Raj, Sarathkumar and the others making their mark as well.
AR Rahman’s work in Ponniyin Selvan is worth many awards, as the composer once again reserves and delivers his best for Mani Ratnam. There are so many sequences which would have felt underwhelming without the actual weight of his background score. DOP Ravivarman’s frames are different, but they do not quite add to the grandeur of the film, and look functional and static at many places.
On the whole, Ponniyin Selvan 1 is a film that delivers just what we expected – a drama that stays true to its source material. Mani Ratnam decides to do it in his way and that drives down the potential excitement that could have been explored, but nevertheless, this is stuff worth watching on the big screen at least once. Ponniyin Selvan 1 (PS1) Movie Review by Siddarth Srinivas