Ponniyin Selvan: I Movie Review: This Mani Ratnam epic drama has riveting plot turns
Ponniyin Selvan: I Movie review: The writers (Mani Ratnam, Elango Kumaravel and B Jeyamohan) draw from traditional plot devices and go beyond maintaining a delicate balance between drama and action.
Rating: 3.5 / 5
Ponniyin Selvan Review: It is the 10th Century. The Chola kingdom is at the receiving end of machinations and schemes at a time when crown prince Aditha Karikalan (Vikram), his younger brother Arulmozhi Varman (Jayam Ravi, the titular character) and their ailing father Sundar Chola (Prakash Raj) are placed in varied situations. The first of them is away from the kingdom but sends a messenger-warrior named Vallavaraiyan Vanthiyathevan (Karthi) to meet his father and younger sister Kundavi (Trisha) to avert existential dangers to the palace. The messenger has to avert the evil plans of a range of schemers from succeeding.
Periya Pazhuvettarayar (Sarath Kumar) and Chinna Pazhuvettarayar (R Parthiban) are actively plotting against the incumbent. They are joined by Nandini (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), the beautiful wife of Periya. Madhurantaka (Rehman) is a wannabe. What Aditha and Arulmozhli do next to safeguard their power is what the rest of the film is about.
The first half has got Vallavaraiyan Vanthiyathevan acting as the plot's soul, giving direction to the story in partly adventurous ways. Aditha, in the first hour, makes occasional but deliberate appearances. It takes a while, a good one hour, for Arulmozhi to make a splash. Once it happens, the deepening of the narrational prowess of the film is complete.
Nandini (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), a Pazhuvoor queen, has a couple of layered portions. Her characterization is amped up by her classy performance. Trisha's character raises the stakes. She makes for an arresting character if you consider the possibilities of the second edition, to be released in 2023.
The alluring drama flames out in (un)expected ways. The camera chases across the landscapes in which the story unfolds in delectable ways. The Telugu version's beginning portions are set to Chiranjeevi's voice-over.
Ponniyin Selvan 1 trailer
The frenzy around the central conflict is kept alive all through. The writers (Mani Ratnam, Elango Kumaravel and B Jeyamohan) draw from traditional plot devices and go beyond maintaining a delicate balance between drama and action. The impulses of the subject, steeped in both history and fiction, have been well thought-through. The intimate sensibilities of the narration are not overdone. The elusive moments are few and far between.
Ponniyin Selvan songs
AR Rahman's rendering of the background score lends a touch of intrigue. The action department (led by Kecha Khamphakdee and Sham Kaushal) isn't quite interested in over-the-top battlefield moments. But the action set pieces are underwhelming. If you expect Baahubali-level battlefield episodes, you will be sorely disappointed.
Ponniyin Selvan Highlights
The physicality brought in by Vikram, Jayam Ravi and Karthi is discernible.
The historical details and the plot turns are not spoonfed. The reprisals and revenge are muted where they should be. The mournful moments don't overplay melancholy.
The director got his team opt for thick leather armour to ensure authenticity. The language of the royal characters has been made deliberately handy.
Sobhita Dhulipala, Jayaram and Aishwarya Lekshmi get to play well-written parts.
Ravi Varman's cinematography, Thota Tharrani's production design and Sreekar Prasad's editing may not be ambitious, but the film is more about its riveting plot turns.
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