Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: 'Ponniyin Selvan – I is Mani Ratnam’s dream project and it feels great to be a part of that'

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: 'Ponniyin Selvan – I is Mani Ratnam’s dream project and it feels great to be a part of that'

The team of the movie opens up about working with Mani Ratnam on his magnum opus

Lipika VarmaUpdated: Sunday, September 25, 2022, 09:17 PM IST
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Pic: Viral Bhatt

Mani Ratnam’s magnum opus, Ponniyin Selvan – I, is gearing up for a theatrical release next week. The movie stars superstars Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Vikram, Karthi, Trisha Krishnan, Prakash Raj, Jayaram, Jayam Ravi, and Aishwarya Lekshmi. The music has been composed by A.R. Rahman. The Tamil drama is based on Kalki Krishnamurthy’s 1955 novel and the movie will be made in two parts. It chronicles the story of the early days of Arulmozhivarman, who went on to become the Chola emperor, Rajaraja Chola I.

This is the fifth time Aishwarya will be collaborating with the prolific filmmaker. She made her acting debut with the 1997 Tamil film Iruvar, and then went on to star in Ratnam’s films like Guru, Raavan, and Raavanan.

Sharing her delight at reuniting with Ratnam, Aishwarya says, “He is my Guru. I started my journey as an actor working with him. He is the best teacher. I didn’t have any formal training and I just dived right into it. It’s spiritual, it’s divine, and it’s like a foundation... Your approach towards work develops. You learn to focus on your art and not on the peripherals in your creative journey. I am blessed to be working with him again. Ponniyin Selvan – I is his dream project and it feels great to be a part of that.”

Adding further, she shares, “It’s an artiste’s dream. All present here will echo my sentiments as we are humbled and creatively content. It was a talented and incredible creative team. Everyone has done such a brilliant job. Mani sir’s passion is infectious. Every day is a memory to cherish.”

For Vikram, working with Ratnam was a dream come true. “It’s a dream I am fulfilling on the big screen. I was in college when Roja and Bombay released. Mani sir’s cousin was my classmate, so I became his friend. I used to ask him about Mani sir since his films had made a huge impact on me. It was also my dream to work with one of the most wonderful maestros in music, A.R. Rahman. And what better opportunity to work in a film where both of them are together,” he shares.

Talking about the film, Vikram says, “He threw me into the jungle and the muck and told me I am playing a prince. With wonderful clothes on I had to roll in the sand and get ready for the shot. The entry in the trailer is my best shot in any film to date. Every cast is a hero or heroine. I am also getting a chance to work with Aishwarya again after Raavan.”

A.R. Rahman and Mani Ratnam have teamed up for several movies in the past. So, what does the combination bring to the film? “As a musician, one can only think of raga and taal and how to break the clutter. But, how to combine things and search for uniqueness is what I have learned from him (Mani Ratnam). For me and our team, this movie is beyond success or failure. It’s a success already. We started the movie during the Covid. It was like war but the team was amazing, risking their lives,” Rahman says.

Ratnam shares his experience of adapting the five-volume book for the big screen. “It was difficult (laughs). It’s my job to be able to extract the right episodes. This book is extensive and has so much history and details. A lot of research went into it. We had to crunch some parts and portray them in a way so that the audience would understand. This was a task which I enjoyed.”

On a parting note, Ravi talks about his special connection with Mumbai and working with Ratnam. “The main connection with Mumbai is the course that I did at Kishore Namit Kapoor Acting Institute a few years back. When you work with Mani sir, you learn what not to do. We are a stellar cast only because of Mani sir,” he signs off.

The movie is bankrolled by Ratnam's banner Madras Talkies and Allirajah Subaskaran's Lyca Productions. It releases in theatres on September 30 in Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam.

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