A History Lesson, From The Heart
Ponni is the other name for river Cauvery in the novel, a poignant character witness to the tales of power, intrigue and caprice that are played out by kings, chieftains, royal women, and vassals woven with stealth and a lot of daring. The casting for PS1 did not set the film trade on fire as it did not have any big names that currently rule the roost in the Tamil film industry. While Mani Ratnam has worked with almost all the greats of the industry, his proclivity for choosing the right cast for his stories is unmatched. For PS1, he ensured that the characters of the novel defined the actors who would portray them. It had Karthi and Jayam Ravi, two young stars hugely popular with their own fandom but never close to the superstar aura of a Rajnikanth, Suriya, Vijay or Ajit, all box office legends. Vikram, Trisha, and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan play the other key characters, the former a leading hero who had freshly delivered a box office dud in ‘Cobra’ two weeks prior. And pray who remembers Aishwarya Rai’s last movie outing? The movie opened to positive reviews and even better word of mouth as days progressed. This increasingly led to large family audiences herded together by family elders to throng the cinemas by the dozen. The gigantic footfalls were also aided by the moderately priced cinema tickets, especially in South India as compared to the prohibitive costs up north. By the end of its first week run, Mani Ratnam and the Cholas were galloping along neatly bestride their horses with no opposition in sight till Diwali when new Tamil releases are slated to open.