Ponniyin Selvan is an epic historical fiction book about the Chola Empire written by R Krishnamurthy whose pen name was ‘Kalki’ and it was first serialised in the weekly editions of Kalki from 29 October 1950 to 16 May 1954, and released in book form of five parts in 1955. Famous Tamil filmmaker Mani Ratnam always wanted to make a movie on it and it was his dream project which he was trying to make for the last thirty years but because of some reason or another, it kept getting postponed. Finally, in January 2019 he revived his dream project in collaboration with Lyca Production who agreed to invest money in it. The cast of the project includes Chiyan Vikram, Aishwarya Rai, Jayam Ravi, Karthi, Trishna, Prakash Raj, etc. The movie is made into two parts and the first part, Ponniyin Selvan is releasing on September 30, 2022.
Ponniyin Selvan till now is the largest selling book in Tamil with yearly sales of around 1,00,000 copies. No other work even comes close to this epic historical fiction novel written by R Krishnamurthy who is famous by his pen name ‘Kalki’. The book is a fictional account of the Chola Empire and it’s considered the greatest novel ever in Tamil literature. It has been a dream for many filmmakers to adapt this saga into a movie including M. G. Ramachandran in the late-1950s but it never materialized. Mani Ratnam, probably the greatest filmmaker of Tamil had the dream of turning Ponniyin Selvan into a movie for more than thirty years but it never materialized mainly because of budget.
A saga like Ponniyin Selvan needed a huge budget to bring it on the screen otherwise it can’t be justified to make a half-backed movie on it because of budget constraints. His first attempt to make the movie was in 1994 with Kamal Haasan but they shelved the project because of the unavailability of finances to make the movie. In 2010, Mani Ratnam revived the project with a budget of hundred crores and started working on the script along with writer Jeyamohan and cast Tamil superstar Vijay as Vallavaraiyan Vandiyadevan. Also, A.R Rahman was signed as the music director along with cinematographer Santosh Sivan, editor A. Sreekar Prasad and art director Sabu Cyril getting attached with the movie. Telegu superstar Mahesh Babu was signed for the role of Arulmozhi Varman, who later becomes the Chola emperor Rajaraja I. But the movie was shelved again because of the budget issue just before the shooting and many considered it a jinxed project.
But Mani Ratnam was determined to fulfill his dream and he started working on it again in 2019 with Lyca Production as the producers who were ready to finance the magnum opus. Vikram, Vijay Sethupathi, and Jayam Ravi were signed for the movie and Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan were also offered the movie but Amitabh Bachchan was not able to do the movie because of unknown reasons but Aishwarya Rai accepted the offer and became part of the movie. In the starting, it was a standalone movie with a budget of 500 crores but later it was decided to make the movie in two parts as the story can’t be justified in a single movie. Vijay Sethupathi has to opt out of the movie because of date issues and the final cast of the movie consisted of Vikram as Aditya Karikalan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in a dual role as Nandini wife of Periya Pazhuvettaraiyar and Aditya’s love interest and her deaf and mute mother Mandakini Devi, Jayam Ravi as Arulmozhivarman aka Ponniyin Selvan later known as the great king Raja Raja Cholan, Karthi as Vallavaraiyan Vandiyadevan, the brave, adventurous and sarcastic warrior prince of Vaanar Clan and Trisha as Kundavai Pirattiyar, also known as Ilaiya Piratti, the Chola princess and daughter of Emperor Sundara Chola and Vallavaraiyan’s Love interest. The music of the movie has been composed by Mani Ratnam’s favorite A.R Rahman, cinematography is by Ravi Varman while A. Sreekar Prasad is the editor of the movie.
The shooting of the movie started in December 2019 at Krabi, Kanchanaburi, and other places in Thailand. In March 2020, the makers shot the major portion of the film for 90 days before the shooting was stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The shooting of the movie resumed on 6 January 2021 at Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad, and continued in Orchha, Gwalior, Pollachi, and Mysore. Mani Ratnam announced wrapping up the first part in September 2021 and dubbing began on 27 September 2021 and the movie will release in Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada. The first part of the magnum opus known as Ponniyin Selvan: I or PS-1 is scheduled to release on 30 September 2022 and finally, we will be able to see Mani Ratnam’s dream coming true on the big screen.