Movie: PS-1 Ponniyan Selvan
Banner: Madras Talkies, Lyca Productions
Cast: Vikram, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Jayam Ravi, Karthi, Trisha, Prabhu, R Sarathkumar, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Sobhita Dhulipala, Vikram Prabhu, Jayaram, Prakash Raj, Rahman, and Radhakrishnan Parthiban
Dialogues: Tanikella Bharani
Music: AR Rahman
Director of Photography: Ravi Varman
Editor: Sreekar Prasad
Production Designer: Thota Tharrani
Action: Kecha Khampakdee & Shyam Kaushal
Producer: Mani Ratnam and Subaskaran
Directed by: Mani Ratnam
Release Date: Sep 30, 2022
After Baahubali, RRR, and KGF movies, Mani Ratnam’s “PS1” is the one period drama that caught the attention of everyone. The hype surrounding the film has been huge. $1 million bookings in the USA alone prove how much buzz the film has generated.
Let’s find out whether the film lives up to the expectations.
Pallavatturyar (Sarath Kumar) and his wife Nandini (Aishwarya Rai) are plotting to make Madhurantakudu (Rahman) as the next king in place of Aditya Karikaludu (Vikram).
Upon this information Kundavi (Trisha) sends Vanthiyadevudu (Karthi), a spy, to bring her brother Arunmozhi aka Ponniyan Selvan (Jayam Ravi) from Srilanka to Tanjore.
Meanwhile, another batch goes out to kill Ponniyan Selvan. The rest of the film is all about Ponniyan Selvan trying to return to his birthplace.
The film has many characters but only a few get importance. Among them, Karthi as Vandiyadevudu takes the prime place.
The film begins with his journey from one place to the other. The first half of the film has Karthi dominating the show. He attempts comedy as well.
Vikram as Aditya Karikaludu appears only in three episodes. His acting gives a déjà vu feeling.
Jayam Ravi as Arunmozhi Varma aka Ponniyan is neat.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan plays a dual role. As Nandini, she has a terrific screen presence. She gets a limited scope to show her performance but she holds the attention with her charm and grace. Trisha as princess Kundavi is beautiful. She looks a lot younger than her real age.
Prakash Raj and Sarath Kumar play their parts well. Sobhita Dhulipala and Aishwarya Lekshmi get minor roles.
The best part of the film is the excellent production design by Thota Tarani. The sets are classy. He recreates the Chola period. Ravi Varman’s camera has enhanced the production design further. The VFX work is impressive in some places, and not up to the mark in other places. AR Rahman’s songs have not worked in the film but his background score is riveting.
The Telugu dialogue writing (by Tanikella Bharani) is okay.
Twists and turns
Aishwarya Rai and Trisha
Hard to understand the first half
No goose bump moments
The makers proclaimed ‘PS1’ as ‘the story of India’s greatest empire.’ Based on a Tamil novel named “Ponniyan Selvan”, Mani Ratnam made the film in two parts and the first part is here. Before the release, there have been comparisons between “PS1” and Rajamouli’s “Baahubali” but both are entirely different, neither of them matches in any manner be it war sequences or grandeur of visuals.
“PS-1” is a story based on real history and the many characters with hard-to-remember names keep coming. Getting track of the names and characters themselves is a cumbersome task. For those who are not familiar with the novel and the history like this reviewer, it is difficult to understand the proceedings and getting the characters.
The film begins with Vandhiyadevudu’s journey. Karthi as Vandhiyadevudu flirts with women, dances, does comedy stunts, plays with a Brahmin (played by Jayaram), and indulges in fights. Through him, we meet all the characters, first Aditya Karikaludu, then Nandini after that Kundavi, and lastly Ponniyan Selvan. His long journey and many subplots occupy the story of this part one.
However, the film is structured in a way that much of the plot happens in the first half, which is very hard to understand. By the time we get the story, the film comes to an interval bang. With so much focus on many characters and their background, we don’t get any high moments. In the entire first half, the only intriguing moment is Vikram killing a person when Aishwarya Rai pleading him to pardon her.
The second half of the film shifts drama to Sri Lanka where Ponniyan Selvan is residing. The visuals in the second half are excellent. The action sequence on a boat is the main highlight. The film comes to its groove in this part. But then it ends quickly with a twist, which in no way matches to ‘Kattappa’ twist.
The film’s biggest strength is the production design and cinematography. The locations are another highlight. These are made for big screen experience. But the narrative is not strong enough to enjoy them. For the Tamil audience, the film may work well because they are familiar with the story and the characters. For us, it is a cumbersome experience.
On the whole, ‘PS-1’ despite its grandeur and high-making values, is far from engaging. You need a lot of patience to watch the slow-paced drama that is nearly 2 hours 45 minutes.
Bottom line: Only Grandeur