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Ponniyin Selvan : I - Chola re chola re chola re chola

Take 3 dimensional integral calculus, multiply it with quantum physics and add a healthy serving of organic chemistry. Mix all of this together and you still won’t come close to scratching the surface of the level of difficulty of deciphering the first hour of Mani Ratnam’s Chola era magnum opus, Ponniyin Selvan : I aka PS-1.

Thank God for Amazon Prime’s feature of pausing a movie scene anywhere and up pops the images of the actors and the characters they are playing in that scene. It’s an invaluable tool for those of us from north of the Vindhyas unfamiliar with the actors (especially when they all, major or minor, sport the same Virat Kohli-esque mustache and beard) and the deep knowledge of the historical characters being portrayed or the Kalki novel upon which it is based. The actresses mercifully don’t have that hirsute homogeneity and are all easy on the eyes with an iridescent Aishwarya Rai Bachchan leading the pack as Nandini (the same name as her character from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999)) along with Trisha and Sobhita Dhulipala.

An hour in, one begins to appreciate the nuances and intricacies of the sprawling canvas of the story unfolding and it’s a much more enjoyable experience from then on. It’s got a bit of Godfather (1972) (the aging sick patriarch, the hot headed older brother a la Sonny Corleone and the younger ostensibly calmer one a la Michael), some Pirates of the Caribbean (2003) style nautical action, and of course sword and bow and arrow action from the Bahubali (2015, 2017) template. Unlike a Kantara (2022) sequel though, I am looking forward to PS-2.

November 27, 2022

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