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PONNIYIN SELVAN: Part One (PS-I) (Tamil/Hindi) - The making of this visual epic would certainly be a much more engaging watch than the film. (Review by Bobby Sing)

02 Oct, 2022 | Just In / ALL ABOUT INSPIRED MOVIES / Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / P / Movie Reviews / 2022 Releases

Ours is a country with an amazingly diverse culture and history, that is still partially taught in schools and colleges as per the regional educational boards. Historical films and historical fictions are thus required to be made making the next generations aware of the lesser-known chapters of the past and the path-breaking creations of our Indian literature. Specifically, when the East is not known to the history and literature of the West and the North is not even familiar with the names of the historical and cultural heroes of the South, this has to be an essential genre of our cinema.

For instance, a big proportion of our population still believes in the myth of the British ruling for 200 years in India, as they have not heard or read about the history of Punjab and the last ruler, taken over by the British much later. Similarly, the people in North India are probably the least familiar with the history, culture, and literature of the Southern states of the country.

Therefore, historical fictions like PONNIYAN SELVAN (meaning the son of Ponni) are welcome, informing us about the cult Tamil novel by Kalki Krishnamurthy it is based upon. Widely considered one of the greatest novels written in the history of Tamil literature, it is about the early years of the Chola empire, which was first published in a serialized form in a popular Tamil magazine back in the early 1950s. Later published in five volumes, the novel has a huge fan following, which explains why the film directed by the maestro Mani Ratnam was so eagerly awaited by one and all.
However, along with being informative and educative in content, historical fictions like PS1 also need to be engaging and entertaining for the viewers, particularly the ones who know little about the basic premise, context, or the key characters.
Coming to the point, while PS-1 might be a satisfactory watch for the viewers who are already well familiar with the subject and characters, related to the specific region, it doesn’t turn out to be anything highly exciting or involving for the rest. Ideally, that should have been the key feature of the film being released Pan India in various other Indian languages. Despite the mega-budget and the grandeur, successfully created through noteworthy performances, impressive cinematography and decent VFX, the film struggles to keep you engaged and has too many dull moments in its lengthy duration. The extremely slow narrative constantly tests your patience and then ends on a continuing note announcing part 2 coming next year.
The hard work and efforts are surely visible in its every frame and sequence, but the writing doesn’t drag you into the world of the kings, queens, their successors, and the tension between them. In case the drama was intentionally kept low and the script written following the original text then that doesn’t work in its entirety, because a cinematic adaptation has to keep you thoroughly engaged in its content, characters, and on-screen proceedings, giving you the return of the money spent. 
Sadly PS-I isn’t a winner on those terms resulting in an underwhelming experience. The few features that keep you marginally interested remain the mesmerising & mystical presence of Aishwarya (looking out of this world with a surprise in the end), the pleasant beauty of Trisha, and the light-hearted characterisation of Karthi, infusing life back into the film with his timely appearances. Both Vikram and Jayam Ravi spell their charm, but Karthi is the one who stays in your mind post-watching the film. The rest of the cast is fine in their given characters, including Prakash Raj, Sobhita Dhulipala, and more. In the writing department, a special mention deserves to be made for the Hindi dialogues penned by Divya Prakash Dubey, who never makes it sound like a dubbed film, moving over many typical insertions of the Hindi dubbing. 
On the other hand, A. R. Rahman yet again doesn’t come up with anything exceptional or a worth remembering soundtrack, complimenting the vision of his writer-director. A couple of songs sound fine while watching the film, but they do not inspire you to search for them again in the uploads online.
In short, PS-I might be a great watch for the Tamil audience for valid reasons, but it didn’t work for me and couldn’t rise above being just an informative film, stunning in its performances and visual presentation. That said, it still didn’t seem to have that finesse, as witnessed in Rajamouli’s Bahubali series, which has now become a benchmark for such inevitable comparisons. 
As a loyal fan, I am still waiting for the talented duo of Mani Ratnam and Rahman to deliver as they used to do in the good old 90s. Perhaps the making of this visual epic would be much more engaging and entertaining than the film. 
Rating: 2.5 + 0.5 / 5 (with the additional 0.5 for the majestic team effort led by the maestro making his dream project)
Bobby Sing

Tags : PONNIYIN SELVAN PS1 Review by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, New Tamil Films Reviews by Bobby Sing, New Hindi dubbed films reviews by Bobby Sing, Mani Ratnam new dream project
02 Oct 2022 / Comment ( 0 )
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