Ponniyin Selvan: Mani Ratnam to resume dream project on grand scale with Vikram, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

Raja Sekar

Aug 01, 2019 11:04:08 IST

Maverick filmmaker Mani Ratnam has almost finalised the cast and crew of his dream film Ponniyin Selvan, based on the epic novel written by Kalki Krishnamurthy. There was a confusion on who would be producing the film but at the audio launch of Suriya's Kaappaan, superstar Rajinikanth confirmed that Lyca Productions will bankroll the magnum opus. "A lot of big names tried to adapt the novel to the big screen but now, Lyca Productions is producing the film with Mani Ratnam," said the Darbar actor.

 Ponniyin Selvan: Mani Ratnam to resume dream project on grand scale with Vikram, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

Mani Ratnam. Facebook

Ratnam had tried to adapt the novel earlier with Tamil and Telugu superstars Vijay and Mahesh Babu respectively but he shelved the idea because of budget constraints.

Now, the director is said to have got the nod from actors like Karthi, Jayam Ravi, Vikram, Keerthy Suresh, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan, Amala Paul, Aishwarya Lekshmi, and Mohan Babu. Ratnam has strictly told his assistants to not reveal the characters to be played by these actors.

But Firstpost got exclusive confirmation from two actors. In an earlier interview to us, Vikram said that he is getting ready for the shoot of Mani's film, and the actor will begin shooting for the film in January.

In an exclusive chat with us, Amala Paul said, "I'm super excited about the film. The pre-production process is progressing in a full swing. I was told that the shoot for my portions will begin by the end of this year."

Already, Aishwarya Rai also confirmed in an interview with Film Companion that she is joining hands with her "Guru" again. Director and actor Parthiepan posted a selfie with Mani Ratnam on Twitter to confirm that he is also playing an important role in Ponniyin Selvan.

Reliable sources tell Firspost that Jayam Ravi is likely to play the titular role of Ponniyin Selvan aka Arulmozhi Varman, who was celebrated as the great Raja Raja Chola I, the great emperor who expanded the Chola Kingdom to Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and the Maldives. Vikram is said to have roped to in play the ferocious King Karikala Chola, the elder brother of Arulmozhi Varman.

Karthi will play Vallavaraiyan Vandiyadevan, the chieftain of the Arulmozhi Varman. Vijay was supposed to play Vandiyadevan and Mahesh Babu was Ratnam’s original choice for the titular role. Earlier reports said that Keerthy Suresh would essay that role of Kundavai Pirattiyar, the elder sister of Raja Raja Chola 1, and she will be paired opposite Karthi in the film. But now sources say that the Mahanati actress will play Poonguzhali, an adventurous boat-woman, who later becomes a queen.

Ratnam approached Aishwarya Rai Bachchan to play a dual role — Nandhini and Mandakini. Nandhini takes revenge against the Chola Kingdom after Karikalan murdered Pandiya King Veerapandiyan in the novel. If all goes well, Aishwarya will also essay Mandakini, the hearing and speech-impaired mother of Nandhini. Sathyaraj, who played Kattappa in Baahubali, is said to have approached to play Periya Paluvettariyar, the head of the rivals of the medieval Cholas.

Firstpost also learns that both Anushka Shetty and Nayanthara are approached for Kundavai but only based on their availability, Ratnam would confirm any one of them as the bold and daring Chola princess. Besides these actors, Ponniyin Selvan requires a few other known stars and thousands of junior artists.

All these actors have asked to start preparing for their characters by participating in the rehearsals from August. Ravi, Vikram, and Karthi will hit the gym, and some of them have to grow long hair as a part of the physical transformation for their respective characters.

The director’s team is carefully estimating the overall budget of the film, and are also scouting for a large place to erect grand sets, replicating the Tanjore palace and giant forts, replicating the Chola period. Mani does not want the set pics to get leaked on the internet so he is in need of a highly secured place.

Ponniyin Selvan is a five-volume novel so Ratnam is planning to release the film in two parts. The first part ends on the death of a famous character just like how the Baahubali first part ended. Based on the reception of the first part, the director will decide on the consecutive parts.

AR Rahman is likely to join hands with Ratnam again for the first film but the rest of the technical crew members are yet to be finalised. As Ponniyin Selvan will be the costliest film ever made in Ratnam’s career, he is taking extra effort to get the best names in the business for VFX, production design, sound design, and other departments.

Along with Ratnam, the screenplay and dialogues of Ponniyin Selvan are being written by Siva Ananth of Chekka Chivantha Vaanam-fame, and Elango Kumaravel.

Apart from Ratnam, Rajinikanth’s younger daughter Soundarya is also working on a web series based on the Ponniyin Selvan novel, which is likely to be featured in the MX Player, a new OTT recently launched in the Indian market.

Before Ratnam and Soundarya, late Tamil Superstar MGR roped in J Mahendran to pen the screenplay of Ponniyin Selvan, and also asked veteran Bharathiraja to direct the film, featuring Kamal Haasan and Sridevi in the lead but sadly, the project got dropped for unknown reasons.

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Updated Date: Aug 01, 2019 11:04:08 IST