Due to his failing health, the king of the Chola dynasty assigns Sundara Choludu (Prakash Raj) the duties of ruling the realm. Sundara Choludu eventually gives it to his son Aditya Karikaaludu (Vikram). The son of the deceased monarch of the Chola dynasty and his actual heir, Madhuranthakudu (Rehman), is saddened by this choice. In order to decide their future course of action, Madhuranthakadu arranges a covert meeting in Kadambur with the assistance of another king, Pallavaraaya (Sarathkumar).
On the other hand, Aditya Karikaaludu becomes suspicious that there is a plot taking place within the kingdom and instructs Vallavarayan Vanthiyadevudu (Karthi), his army commander, to uncover the truth. Does Vallavarayan find out? What role does Nandhini (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) play in this narrative? How does Aditya’s brother Ponniyin Selvan Arunmozhi (Jayam Ravi), the following ruler of the Chola dynasty, end this plot?
A magical spectacle
Mani Ratnam earnestly adopts diverse characters from rich and varied source material, all of whom experience a rollercoaster of emotions. His star-studded cast certainly helps. Although there are many characters in this pan-Indian movie, Karthi is given the central role in the first instalment. He’s hugely entertaining, especially in the scenes in which he flirts with women.
Jayam Ravi and Aishwarya Rai get more screen time after Karthi. The character played by Aishwarya Rai is crucial to the plot, and she does an outstanding job. The main character’s actor, Jayam Ravi, appears only in the second half yet performs admirably. In the follow-up, his character will be more prominent. Vikram has less screen time but is impactful. The second-half action block, which includes the fight scene involving Karthi and Jayam Ravi, is masterfully orchestrated and keeps our interest.
Who better than Mani Ratnam can pull off this epic novel? From the titles and until the end cards, it has Mani’s magic all over. Thota Tharrani’s production design is remarkable and complements this monumental saga. Eka Lakhani’s costume work is spell-binding. A.R. Rahman’s background score is probably the best in his outstanding career and Ravi Varman’s visuals are mind-boggling.
WATCH OR NOT
‘Ponniyin Selvan 1‘ is Mani Ratnam’s best work to date; his creativity seems to be growing like fine wine. No second thoughts, catch this Tamil movie in a theatre and wait for part two, which is coming up in 2023.
Director: Mani Ratnam
Cast: Vikram, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Karthi, Jayam Ravi, Trisha, Shobita Dulipala, Aiswarya Lekshmi, Prabhu, Jayaram, Vikram Prabhu, Sarathkumar, Prakash Raj