Sunday, June 23, 2024

Ponniyin Selvan: Wayward first half; Brilliant in second

As someone who is far from being a movie buff, I was forced by my kids to watch Ponniyin Selvan yesterday. It was an early night show at the Pacific Mall. Yes an early night show that started at 7:45 and went on till 11pm. There was another show that starts at 11pm!

I had thought that the movie starred #hritikroshan and #AishwaryaRaiBachchan.

Of course I was wrong

I saw the dubbed version in Hindi, the original is set in Tamil.

A #ManiRatnam film has to be special and it indeed turned out to be great in the end. However I almost walked out after one hour from the start. There are too many characters that come one-after-the-other.

The acts and motives of the leading men and women are unexplained and unfathomable in the first half. My brain had almost signalled me to go into deep sleep.

The songs are beautifully depicted but the lyrics sound absurd. This is obvious since the original songs are in Tamil and the Hindi words are chosen more to sync with the lip movements, rather than the spirit of the original lyrics.

The movie is set in the period of the great Chola empire in Southern India. If you have studied history of ancient India through the CBSE books, then you may wonder how you missed the grand period of Chola empire in 3rd century BCE.

The movie is about the palace intrigues- an old and ailing King who has two of his sons out of his capital to capture more territories and to defend the vast existing one.

The seemingly trusted satraps of the kingdom are plotting to overthrow the King and put in his place another Chola prince who too has some claim to the throne.

The two sons of the King, Aditha Karikalan & Arulmozhi Varman, are valorous and loyal to the King even though the elder one (Karikalan) is depicted as a ruthless and inhuman warrior. The daughter Kundavi is beautiful and a thinking woman who stays back at the palace and is the most trusted counsel of King, her father’s Princess.

The King’s most trusted satrap ( Periya Pazhuvettaraiyar) is also an old man whose young wife (Nandini), brilliantly played by Aishwarya Rai, is also up to some long term plans. She seems ambitious and scheming and her intent may be good, bad or ugly. No one knows.

In the 2nd half, the movie that was hitherto brilliant in action but wayward in storyline, becomes interesting and gripping.

We come to know that Nandini was the first love interest of Karikalan and her sudden disappearance was the main reason for Karikalan becoming a raging bull who is at peace only when he is at the battlefield, smashing heads and beheading opponents.

Let me not reveal the plot further and play a spoilsport. Buy your popcorn and #cokezero in the first half and hold your bladder in the second half .

My advice

1- Read about the movie, on #Wikipedia page before you go to the theatre;

2 Enjoy the choreography of the songs and forget the lyrics (Hindi)

3- Don’t judge any character because each one of them has multiple layers and their true selves will be revealed only after PS-II is released in 2023;

And yes, Hritik Roshan is in another movie, called #VikramVedha 

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