Mani Ratnam’s long-in-the-planning film to have ‘no superheroes, no definite villains’
A still from the Ponniyin Selvan: I
Mani Ratnam’s adaptation of Kalki Krishnamurthy’s Tamil novel, Ponniyin Selvan is the realisation of his childhood dream. It was a film he wanted to create with Kamal Haasan a while ago, post the success of Nayakan (1987), but things did not materialise.
The story is set in 10th century India during the reign of the Chola empire when a family rift for the potential successor to the emperor, became imminent. In an interview to Variety, Ratnam said that he did not find the adaptation easy to execute, given that Krishnamurthy has penned the tale in much detail. Even then, he said the team attempted to make the film as realistic as it could, and with the understanding that the book was written through the point of view of a common man. He admits that this is also the “angle that we have taken [as] there are no superheroes, no definite villains in this [film]”.
Mani Ratnam. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
Even though the ongoing wave in cinema favours the production of franchises, Ratnam says he wasn’t swayed with the perfect opportunity to create five editions, of the five-book series. “From the first time that I read the book, back when I was finishing school, it sounded like a big-screen experience. To me, when I was reading it, I could see these larger-than-life figures filling the screen. I thought this story was really demanding to be shown on the big screen. And so there was never doubt or a thought of doing it for streaming, I’ve always wanted it as a feature film,” Variety quotes Ratnam as saying.
The upcoming film, Ponniyin Selvan: I, which has been dubbed in Hindi from the Tamil original, is Ratnam’s 27th feature. The first-ever adaptation of the book has been filmed in two parts. The movie features Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Vikram, among other actors, and is set for a September 30 release.
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