Sujatha, Mani Ratnam and Ponniyin Selvan

Sujatha, in this week’s vikatan column, lists out practical stumbling blocks of making Kalki’s Ponniyin Selvan into a movie and how Mani Ratnam had etched a neat script which encompasses all the five volumes of the novel in just eighty scenes. The stumbling blocks included popularity of the novel over 5 decades, budget and ofcourse a bunch of producers who wanted to make Ponniyin Selvan for small screen. All this and more made Mani Ratnam/Sujatha drop Ponniyin Selvan in it’s intial stages.

More to it he also underlines the possible means to make Mani Ratnam’s script come alive on-screen. He lists his dream-team that would make Ponniyin Selvan happen and interestingly he introduces interesting combinations of Mani Ratnam-Shankar, Rajini-Kamal and Illayaraja-Rahman. While it sounds utopian at a concept level, it makes me wish that it should happen.

Making Ponniyin Selvan, into a film, is a herculean task. While I am sure the movie cannot convey the depth of the book, I am sure they can make a better attempt at it. Especially when Sujatha appreciates the script of Mani Ratnam, I’m hoping it must be a well-conceived script. Before going into the details, wait a second. Is this a curtain raiser for Mani Ratnam’s next venture??

Update – Have removed the snapshot of Vikatan column much to the delight the copyright puritans. More on this to continue.

30 thoughts on “Sujatha, Mani Ratnam and Ponniyin Selvan

  1. AHHHHHHHHHHHHH, my version of celluloid utopia shared by Sujatha too! Enna prachanai na, if both Rajini and Kamal have to act, the story should have scope for them to play their ages. Also there remains the slight problem of Rajini having to speak Thamizh that would do justtice. hmmm.. For a hardcore thalaivar fan, I might have committed sacrilege with that statement, but I do have to accept where he falls short, atleast in terms of this particular movie possibility.
    But then, wouldn’t it be prudent to get someone like Surya into the mix too 😉

  2. I haven’t read PSelvan (tho heard a lot abt it) – can anyone tell the crux of the story in a paragraph ?
    Ex:
    “Its the story spanning 3 generation following the raise and fall of….” (like that)

    But I wonder how Shakar-Mani can work together with their different styles, but IR-AR combo would rock!

  3. Ya.. I’d love to hear a period score in Tamil from ARR! Imagine, if there were 6 songs (the movie probably would have more than 10 songs, with the rest from IR), all in the Narumugaye range! That will be pure heaven!

  4. Ram, I have read Ponniyin Selvan in full. I have PDF versions of them all.(If someone wants it, i could upload it somewhere..)

    It is a very ordinary story of a King narrated in an Extra-ordinatry way. It is the story of RajaRaja Cholan, before and after he attains Kingship. You would be baffled to read the Tamil, and few of the words, you wouldnt have even heard.

    it is a difficult thing to make a movie out of the story, as the story is very ordinary. It is better left as a novel. A treasure of tamil, forever.

  5. All the other combos are acceptable ..but am wondering why Sujatha wanted to say Ratnam and Shankar should combine…IMO Mani has all the potential to handle the huge task…Shankar’s wavelength is different..his style is to paint a silly picture on a huge canvas..lavishing it with unwanted vettibandhas..but as it is that is the main reason for the crowd to love him.

    Yeah it looks like the curtain raiser of the next Ratnam film…but before he makes a solid start a lot will change.

  6. Keerthivasan, I’d love to have a pdf copy, can you upload it and give the links?

    LG, Thanks for the space.

  7. wow!! all u guys are talking about a dream movie! but Shankar should not be mixed with Mani…why not leave this project to Mani alone… Hope it sees the light of day.

  8. just a ‘bakwaas’ comment: rajni and kamal finally come together in one post…one after the other as usual!

  9. I read the novel 6 years ago and then I imagined Aish to be as Kundavai and Urmila(Rangeela effect) as nandhini!
    These two character descriptions haunted me a lot!Kalki was very good in describing heroines and scenarios..Heros were left out
    So it wud be nice to see making of a film with good heroines..Waiting for that!

  10. Ra Ki Rangarajan writes in AVAN( his autobiography)that he and Kamal worked on the script for Ponniyin Selvan. It was half completed I guess. But the idea was later shelved.
    I am hoping Kamal gets back to scripting it.He is the only one who will do justice to the story.

    Mani & Shankar combo….i hope that does not happen !!!
    Mani will have his charcters speaking in monosyllables under their breath, whereas Shankar’s heroines will be dancing semi nude in Timbuktu…..And yes the audience will be pained with 10 songs from Rahman,
    with Udit Narayan/Sukhwinder Singh singing
    “Ponnarmeniyane” probably. And yes I forgot Nandhinee will be played by Moniha Koirala and Kundhavai by Preity Zinta probably.And it will be Madhavan playing Vandhiya Thevan.
    Please Shankar and Mani spare us………
    I am sure Mani would have made a good screenplay.
    But i do not want him directing or casting . “Leave that to Kamal” will be my advise to Mani.

  11. Aaaaha. I fully agree with you lazy. I also feel, this is a curtain raiser for the next Mani film.

    I read somewhere, Mani’s next movie will be with new comers.

    Whatever! We want a Mani movie.

  12. I am an ardent fan of ponniyin selvan and I have read it more than 3 times and still read it whenever I find time. Two things that I feel the movie MUST defintely have is:

    1. Good tamil…which I feel as the most important. Although there are translations of ponniyin selvan in english, I believe it is impossible to do justice to Dr.Kalki’s Tamil. By reading the epic in tamil, one can visualize the ruins of Anuradhapuram or the emerald islands that surround srilanka or the buzzing streets inside the great walls of the tanjore fort..the list goes on. If the story or Kalki’s imagination contributes to 50% of its sucess, it is his tamil that rules the other 50%.

    2. The characters..Like Sujatha says..It is impossible to cater to everyone’s imagination..but there are few who can play the great pazhuvettarayar’s or Vandhiyathevan or kundavai..but only a few. Just casting a leading hero like madhavan in Vandhiyathevan’s character will not do justice to the role. It will infact be a major disappointment to millions of true ponniyin selvan fans and I’m one of them.

    By the way, Ponniyin selvan is a story about Raja Raja Chola but not about his exploits after he becomes the emperor..but the many conspiracies and hurdles that he overcomes to help save the chola empire from breaking. Infact, It is only mentioned in the epilogue that he becomes an emperor..but it isn’t a part of the story.

  13. The last paragraph in Sujatha’s column is just a joke and not a serious observation.

    It also appears that in this age of the Internet, once anything is on the net, it can be not only analysed and commented on but also reproduced by anybody anywhere for free.

  14. Kumar, Thanks. Even a non-sujatha reader can smell the sense of humour running along the lines of those lines. these paragraphs have kindled a discussion which was in the minds of people.

    Sometime what you say has become true. i assure you this isn’t one 😉 Not just that but i’m a paid subscriber of Vikatan. I don’t read it for free.

  15. Lazygeek, you neednt have done that !
    You just need to publish Vikatan snippet on your blog, and mail Vikatan that you have made an excerpt from their site, with due credits to them.

    In the world of internet, there’s nothing like Copyrights. Atleast, i dont know about it.

  16. Keerthi, if u notice, LG *has* attributed source to Ananda Vikatan. And that is a perfectly acceptable way of using a source. When I put up a live scoreboard on my blog, showing live scores from all cricket matches, all that Cricinfo wanted me (spoke to someone who worked there) to do was to include text/link that it is sourced from them.
    It is not as if LG’s passing on his paid membership account to others. If u gotta read the whole peice, you still had to log on to AaVi. So I think LG is in the clear!

  17. Anti, Thanks. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing for years and we have this puritans of copyrights commenting. I took out not fearing the reaction but to make a full length blogpost on how copyrights have been followed/screwed in the world of internet.

    You’ve to be a victim of something to react. against it. Thats exactly I’m trying to do !!

  18. But the film needn’t be all 5 books in one. If you ask me, there’s a tremendous scope to do a LOTR trilogy kind of movie – 5 books, 4 movies.

    I would love to see Kamal Hassan as periya pazhuvetarayar. A villain, but with a good heart, complex character, and finally, killing himself…he might take it to the next level.

  19. I totally agree with splitting ponniyin selvan in to 2-3 parts rather than making it into a single movie.
    Although, I do not agree with the idea of kamal playing Periya Pazhivettarayar. It is not because, he cannot perform the role…He can take any character and play it to perfection. But, his physique does not fit the descriptions of both the pazhuvettarayars in the book. I have always imagined someone like the veteran actor Ranga Rao to play the role of periya pazhuvettarayar.

  20. By the way…who do you think killed Adithya Karikalan..was it Nandhini or Pazhuvettarayar or Manimekalai or Did he kill himself?

  21. vikatan’s contents were free until recently. During that time it would have been ok to reproduce the contents of their site. (as long as the content is attributed to them.) But now, their contents are wrapped in a dollar bill. Meaning they want only paid customers to set eye on their content.

    LG, Hopefully you and your readers have taken this in the right spirit.

  22. On the surface, Sujata’s comments about various talents coming together to make this happen reminds me of the movie Gandhi where famous Indian directors (Govind Nihalani, for one) worked as second directors to Attenborough to shoot the movie.
    However, on second thought, it is ridiculous to think that just throwing more bodies at this would somehow make it work. Please tell me how an “Ilayaraja-ARR combo” adds anything more than just having one composer or a “mani-shankar combo” adds more than just having Mani as the director? Mani is quite capable of handling this movie by himself.

  23. MY opinion is that PONNIYIN SELVAN is a long story hence making it as a mega tv serial is the only way of justifying the whole story.Instead KALKI’s other novel SIVAGAMIYIN SABATHAM can be an alternative to make a movie, it has lot of interesting sequences to portray on the large screen(like fight sequences of TROY-the english movie).Also the climax is heart touching,so go for SS instead of PS.
    sutharsan

  24. A movie is more than just an adaptation of a novel. As wellset as Kalki’s epics are in the mindscape of Tamil readers, Tamil viewers have locked into “hero-oriented” and “mega-serial weepies”. If anyone were to make this movie, the mental atmosphere would have to be set first for a large audience to appreicate it. And considering the scale of the epic, it would require a mass audience for it to be economically viable. Like the Sivaji starring Hindu epics from Thiruvilaiyaadal thru Kandhan Karunai and Thirumaal perumai, other movies of a similar nature would have to be made first to adapt the audience mindset to watch PS or even Sivakaamyin Sabatham.

    While artistic interest may be there among a section of the public, will the wider base watch it? Mani, Shankar, Rajni, Kamal etc. take big pay packets – would they agree to sharing the pie? Our actors are dancing in front of yellow buses in Munich and blue trams in Belgium with MTV steps and ridiculous costumes – it’s pure nostalgia to expect Thevaram and Prabandham songs to click suddenly.

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