When I came out of the theatres, few emotions were flashing through my mind. Goosebumps, a surreal revelation, the epic-ness of the original novel or the mere genius of a master filmmaker who has managed to deliver this in unbelievable proportions. Perhaps this could be all of the above or I am just imagining myself in a different realm of storytelling that remains restrained and provocative in its own way.
I have not read the novel nor did I have any affinity towards the charm of the original script before Mani Ratnam decided to make a movie out of it. So I obviously do not belong in the space where I could decipher the aura of making a such an iconic novel in to a Magnum Opus. But as this reality became more evident, I started looking on to the details – like the context, the complexity and diversity of the characters, the massive scale and against the backdrop of one of the most powerful and illustrious dynasties in Indian history (perhaps terming it as the Sub-Continent would be more apt).
When you hear stories of MGR and Kamal Hassan who wanted to create a celluloid version of this classic but things never materialised, with Mani Ratnam himself trying to revive the making in the 90s but somehow the idea went in to oblivion – this again establishes the inevitability quotient wherein this idea of making ‘Ponniyan Selvan’ for Cinema was in the pipeline for a very long time and thus the curiosity has only multiplied. So the real question was ‘when’ even though the ‘how’ was an equally daunting task.
By all means and without being very critical of its production by keeping the original novel in a more dignified place, Mani Ratnam’s ‘Ponniyan Selvan’ is an example of pure cinematic brilliance. More so for its ensemble cast, bringing those vividly complex characters on screen with the trademark Mani Ratnam swag and a stunning background score to supplement the legend of ‘Ponniyan Selvan’.