REVIEW: Ponniyin Selvan (Part 1) – Glorious attempt which was effective but too delicate

Ponniyin Selvan 1 aka PS1 ,which was released with a great deal of anticipation for its adaptation of one of the best-selling novels in Tamil and has worked effectively to an extent that a non-reader like me was able to relate as well as get entertained.

The film starts with a very crisp and much needed introduction to the characters, and the scene where it opens becomes more effective by Kamal Haasan’s voice over. The cast, who delivered some outstanding performances, is undoubtedly one of the film’s major strengths. Karthi as Vanthiyathevan is an excellent choice for the leading role in the film. He is a funny, lovable,witty, honest, and brave warrior.

Trisha shines as Kundhavai, a terrific mix of beauty and sarcasm with an astounding attitude. Her face speaks a lot, especially whenever she’s talking to Nandhini. Aishwarya Rai’s performance as Nandhini is multifaceted and phenomenal. Sarath Kumar as Periya Pazhuvettarayar is another notable character to me who best fits into a ‘Kingdom’ than any others. The rest of the cast, including Jayam Ravi as the title character, Vikram as Adithya Karikalan, Prakashraj as Sundar Chozhar, Jayaram as Azhwarkadiyan, Prabhu as Periya Vellar Boothi Vikramakesari, Parthiban as Chinna Pazhuvettaraiyar, and Aishwarya Lekshmi as Poonguzhali, has done well.

The first half is so engaging and interesting because there is so much emphasis on establishing each character. Then comes the second half, in which events begin and gradually decline. The journey of Vanthiyathevan keeps the film rolling, and comes to a halt when he meets Arunmozhi Varman. The pace of the plot and other good things slows down.

The storytelling is honest, with no concessions for a “larger cinema audience,” but it is also too dainty. The tone in the narration, execution, and performances gives me the feeling that I’m watching a good Maniratnam film, and I almost forget that I’m watching a historical film about the Chozha Dynasty. Vikram as Aditha Karikalan is probably the only vocally and physically loud character who is as good as he always is, but a few scenes in which he discusses his past love with Nandhini reminds me so much of him in Ravanan.

A R Rahman’s music and Ravi Varman’s cinematography elevated the experience. Aside from having an extraordinary technical crew, it did not give the impact of watching a historical film. Stunts, for example, are shot so well but are so simple for a war sequence, especially given the audience’s exposure to similar sequences in recent times.Maybe it’s because our minds are conditioned to watch historical films with much louder and exaggerated drama, but I felt that’s how you make the audience feel the genre.

Disclaimer : A non-readers review about the movie and absolutely no comparison to the novel.


  • Vikram as Aditha Karikalan alias Adithya Chola II, the crown prince and the commander of Northern troops in Sundara Chola’s Reign. Eldest son of Sundara Chola. Arulmozhivarman and Kundavai’s elder brother.
  • Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in a dual role as:
    • Nandini, a Pazhuvoor queen and wife of Periya Pazhuvettaraiyar and Adithya Karikalan’s love interest.
      • Sara Arjun as Young Nandini.
    • Mandakini Devi, also known as Singala Naachiyaar or Oomai Rani (transl. ”The Mute Queen”), Nandini’s deaf and mute mother.
    • Jayam Ravi as Arulmozhi Varman aka Ponniyin Selvan, later known as the great king Raja Raja Chola I. Youngest son of Sundara Chola. Adithya Karikalan and Kundavai’s younger brother.
  • Karthi as Vallavaraiyan Vanthiyathevan alias Vanthiyathevan, the brave, adventurous and sarcastic warrior prince of Vaanar Clan.
  • Trisha as Kundavai, also known as Ilaiya Piratti, the Chola princess and daughter of Emperor Sundara Chola and Vallavaraiyan’s Love interest.
  • Aishwarya Lekshmi as Poonguzhali, also known as Samuthirakumari (transl. ”The princess of the ocean”), a boat woman living in Kodikarai.
  • Sobhita Dhulipala as Vaanathi, also known as Kodambalur Ilavarasi, a shy Kodumbalur princess and Arulmozhi’s love interest
  • Prabhu as Periya Vellar Boothi Vikramakesari, the Irunkovel chieftain, uncle of Vaanathi and the Commander of the southern troops during Sundara Chola’s reign.
  • R. Sarathkumar as Periya Pazhuvettaraiyar, the chancellor and treasurer of the Chola kingdom from the Paluvettaraiyar clan who was respected for his valour and 64 scars he got in battles.
  • Vikram Prabhu as Parthibendra Pallavan, friend of Adithya Karikalan, who comes from the lineage of Pallavas.
  • Jayaram as Azhwarkadiyan Nambi alias Thirumalaiappan, a Veera Vaishnavite spy who works for the Prime Minister and Sembiyan Mahadevi.
  • Prakash Raj as Sundara Chola alias Parantaka Chola II, the emperor of Chola empire, father of Adithya Karikalan, Kundavai and Arulmozhivarman, also known for his beauty giving him the name Sundara.
  • Rahman as Madurantaka Chola alias Uttama Chola, the son of Sembiyan Mahadevi and Gandaraditya Chola, who was raised as a Shaivite.
  • R. Parthiban as Chinna Pazhuvettaraiyar, the chief in-charge of Thanjavur fort.
  • Ashwin Kakumanu as Senthan Amudhan, a flower seller.
  • Aswin Rao as Kandhamaaran, also known as Illaiya Sambuvaraiyan, the prince of Kadamboor.
  • Nizhalgal Ravi as Kadmabur Sambuvaraiyar, the petty ruler of Kadamboor from the Sambuvaraya family.
  • Lal as Tirukoilur Malaiyaman alias Milaadudaiyar, the father-in-law of Sundara Chola and maternal grandfather for his children.
  • Vijaykumar as Vijayalaya Chola.
  • Vidya Subramanian as Vanavan Mahadevi, the Empress of the Chola empire.
  • Jayachitra as Sembiyan Mahadevi aka Periya Piratti, the wife of Gandaraditya and mother of Utthama Chola.
  • Mohan Raman as Aniruddha Brahmarayar a leading minister in the court of the Chola emperor Sundara Chola.
  • Nassar as Veerapandiyan
  • Kishore as Ravi Dasan, antagonist of the novel Ponniyin Selvan and the leader of the Pandya Aabathudavigal.
  • Riyaz Khan as Soman Sambhavan one of the member of Pandya Aabathudavigal.
  • Vinay Kumar as Parameswaran or Theveraalan one of the member of Pandya Aabathudavigal.
  • Yog Japee as Karuthiruman who helped Veerapandian and Mandakini.
  • Arjun Chidambaram as Varagunan one of the member of Pandya Aabathudavigal.
  • Nimmy Raphel as Rakkamaal
  • Vinodhini Vaidyanathan as Vasuki, maid of Nandini.
  • Master Raghavan as Pandya prince.
  • Babu Antony as Rashtrakuta king
  • Makarand Deshpande as Chief Kaalamugar.
  • Amzath Khan