Ponniyin Selvan — Maniratnam’s love for Godfather continues in this epic drama

3 min readOct 10, 2022


Sundara Chozhar is the ailing Don Corleone. Aditha Karikalan is the brash ‘Tommy’ and Arulmozhi Varman is the composed ‘Michael’. Vandiyadevan is the Lawyer. Mani Ratnam must have been heavily inspired by Godfather. From Nayakan to Agni Natchathiram to Chekka Chivantha Vanam to his most recent epic Ponniyin Selvan (PS1), Godfather plays out again and again in his films. It doesn’t matter. PS1 is a worthy watch.

It is easy to criticize any film but one thing I learned in recent times is to check whether the movie was engaging me during the film. If I was fully engaged during the 3 hours of the film, then, in my opinion, it is a good film. PS1 fully engaged me.

What made an immediate good impression on me are the dialogues and the Tamil accent. They didn't use Sentamizh and instead, use the colloquial & grounded Tamil that helped to connect easily with the film. Imagine Karthi and Jayam Ravi speaking Sentamizh. It would not have suited the film.

The signature Maniratnam introduction shot for a Hero was once again there with Vikram opening the honours with a sensationally shot horse sequence. The ‘strategy’ scene where Kundavai walks into the meeting place with Pazhuvettaraiyar and the small kings was superb. Aditha Karikalan killing a guy even after Nandini begged him for merci was superb as well. The ‘Raatchasa Maman’ song sequence was tastefully shot. Vandiyadevan’s flirting sequences with Nandini and Kundavai were beautiful.

AR Rahman created magic throughout with his good use of silence and sound. Thotta Tharani’s minimalistic production design was still creating the grandeur and scale with the help of some powerful CGI. Ravi Varman did masterful work blending the CG & live action really well. The technical department and CG teams created ‘scale’ brilliantly. The scene when Vikram opens the palace doors with an elephant was brilliant. The scene when pandyas try to attack Arulmozhi in the beach was also very well done.

The casting was mostly good. However, Vikram as Aditha Karikalan and Jayam Ravi as Arulmozhi varman didnt suit the character well. Vikram as a prince was like prince charles. That character needed a young dynamite. Imagine Vijay Deverakonda or Ramcharan. Karthi did his best but the Vandiyadevan character needed more energy. Imagine a young MGR or a young Rajini as Vandiyadevan or atleast Vijay would have been much better. For Arulmozhi Varman, I heard that the initial choice was Mahesh Babu and he would have been brilliant. But Aishwarya Rai as Nandini and Trisha as Kundavai were brilliant.

The weak points are there too. I don’t want to poke too many holes. But Vikram’s character was more like Godfather’s Tommy but that ‘turbulence’ didnt come out effortlessly. Also, that song sequence with Vikram was the only dull sequence in the whole film. Vikram didn’t suit the film at all.

Maniratnam emerges as the hero and the master for his tight screenplay, grand scale with minimalistic production design and for his ability to create the engagement for three hours in a period drama. There is a reason why the film is doing wonders at the box office in TN because it plays to the Tamil pride, creates a pan-india identity & interest for Tamil history and most importantly, showcases our culture to the world.

Here in Geneva, even a Rajini film will get a maximum of 2 shows but this film is going for 6 shows over 3 weeks and that tells the impact of this film.




Entrepreneur & Writer; ex-WEF/ Innosight; Innovation work featured in Lean Startup, First Mile. Led award winning animation series; Author of a book on Net Zero