I’m pretty late to review Ponniyin Selvan Part-1 by Mani Ratnam featuring an ensemble cast. Well, we all know the buzz about the movie and there is a high demand. Finally, a day before Dussehra I could find tickets to the movie for a late night show.
Unfortunately, I regret to have wasted money on a movie, which is actually nothing but a boring masala drama. And, it is a criminal waste of talent and resources for a movie of this scale. Well, there is a good buzz around the movie and still people are watching it. But, mediocrity from the so called best director of the country is unacceptable.
Now, let me explain why I’m specifically referring to these words.
Tweaking plots of a fiction novel in the process of film making is not new. Right from Sanjay Leela Bhansali to Rajamouli and other major film makers while shooting for a period always followed suit. However, twisting the primary plots kill the whole essence of the story and Mani Ratnam has missed or misread all these essential parts.
For example, Aditha Karikalan asking Vanthiyathevan to go to Sambuvaraiyar Maligai is highly inappropriate. Why? Because, Karikalan asks Vanthiyathevan to go to Thanjavur and the latter on his own will visits Kadambur Palace. This fascination of Vanthiyathevan describes his character i.e., his wavering mind and adventure seeking attitude.
Such characteristics of a person will make you fall in love with a character. But if those aspects are missing in a movie then the film maker did not understand the story well.
In a historical film, misrepresenting facts is grave. Because it is questioning the very existence of a culture and its ethos. In the later part of the story, Arulmozhi Verman chooses to fight these Arab traders in the first place ascending the throne.
In the Ponniyin Selvan novel, Kalki Krishnamurthy talks about Arabs trading Horses, and it explains their brutality. Unlikely, Mani Ratnam suppressed this fact completely and we presume that is to ensure minority appeasement. However, it is a known fact for everyone worldwide that Arab traders were brutal. By doing so, we do not refer to Muslims living in our country and that is not an offense at all.
Similarly, when Kundavai reveals the ongoing conspiracy to Sundara Cholar, the latter places his trust on the one accused. The distorted of all fact would be that of Vanathi’s character who is fragile in nature. But in the movie she is flamboyant and foregoing.
Karithiruman is shown as the brother of Poonguzhali, but in reality Murugaiyan is her brother and the former will actually be imprisoned.
Ponniyin Selvan is a great story, which has the potential to lure audience interest in the first place. This is only due to Kalki Krishnamurthy’s effort in characterization. Characters like Aditha Karikalan, Nandini, Sembiyan Mahadevi, Aniruddha Brahmaraayar, Oomai Rani, and Kundavai are respectful. While characters like Vanthiyathevan, Arulmozhi Varman, Poonguzhali, Vanathi, and Sendhan Amudhan are adorable.
The face-offs between Nandini and Kundavai is the highlight of the story. And Kundavai confronting Chinna Pazhuvettaraiyar is an intense scene that needs a special mention. All these facts were not at all well emphasized in the movie.
This perfect mix of characters need perfect depictions and unfortunately the film maker failed to do it. Irrespective of having an ensemble cast, the end result is highly disappointing. Therefore, this whole movie is nothing but a wasted effort.
Need for Film Makers with Intense Character Building
Characters and characterization set the context for any story. If both these factors aren’t gelling well together, then the work of art is a total disaster. Especially, distorting and twisting facts for the convenience of film making might interest the mass audience, but it won’t add justice to the film maker’s ability. Hence, we need film makers who can intensify the characters and make us respect and adore them.