Audio Start of “Ponniyin Selvan”: The camaraderie of Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan steals the show

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Mani Ratnam’s Ponniyin Selvan, with music by AR Rahman, features an outstanding all-star cast including Vikram, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Karthi and Trisha

Mani Ratnam’s Ponniyin Selvan, with music by AR Rahman, features an outstanding all-star cast including Vikram, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Karthi and Trisha

Mani Ratnams Ponniyin Selvan, based on the historical novel by Tamil writer Kalki Krishnamurthy, is among the biggest Indian films of the year. As befits a project of this magnitude and scale, the trailer and audio launch feature of the film, set to music by AR Rahman and held at Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai on Tuesday night, was rich in production value and was recognized by the Who’s Who of Tinseltown adorned.

Packed with great musical performances and speeches, the premiere could be among the best film events to have been held in recent memory. Aside from the star cast, which includes Vikram, Jayam Ravi, Karthi, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Trisha, among others, the two reigning icons of Tamil cinema – Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan – also performed. Here are some highlights of the event:

Ponniyin Selvan Audio Start | Photo credit: SPECIAL AGREEMENT

The lovable Rajinikanth-Kamal fellowship

“Do you want to go down and sit down, Kamal?”

“No, I will stand here and listen to you, Rajini.”

The friendship and bond between the two superstars of Tamil cinema was showcased at the screening. Although the two actors do not star in Mani Ratnam’s magnum opus, they do have a connection to the director, having starred in his classic performances such as ” Nayagan (1987) and Thalapathy (1991). Kamal Haasan said: ” Ponniyin Selvan has long been a dream film. MGR wanted to do it. When I asked him to give me the rights he did so but asked me to do it quickly. I didn’t understand why he said that at the time. However, one thing has always been clear to me: if anyone tries to make a film out of this, it’s either me or Mani Ratnam. I’m glad he pursued that dream. It will be an important win for him.”

Rajinikanth after entertaining the audience with funny stories about the shooting of Mani Ratnams Thalapathy in Mysore revealed why no one had attempted to bring a cinematic representation of Kalki’s classic Tamil novel to the big screen. “That’s probably because there hasn’t been a concept for part one, part two in the past. Otherwise, movie stars in the past wouldn’t have let go of this topic,” he said, adding, “Although I’m an avid reader, I haven’t read Ponniyin Selvan first because it was a long read. After coming across a comment from Ms. Jayalalithaa that I would be suitable for a film version of the book, I was intrigued and immediately started reading it. The writing and storytelling in this book is amazing.”

Jayam Ravi, Vikram and Karthi at the start

Jayam Ravi, Vikram and Karthi at the start | Photo credit: SPECIAL AGREEMENT

music and dance

Ponniyin Selvan marks the 30th anniversary of the Mani Ratnam-AR Rahman combo, which has since released memorable albums roja (1992). This collaboration was celebrated by vocalists Sathyaprakash, Rakshita and a team of enthusiastic singers who took the audience on a musical journey into the 90’s and 2000’s, performing numbers from hits such as Bombay, Alaipayuthe and guru. Some of the performances even woke up the celebrity crowd; Siddharth and Trisha, the original stars of the up-tempo ‘Yaakai Thiri’ number ( Aayutha Ezhuthu) were spotted singing and grooving during the performance. The other musical highlight were the composers Yuvan Shankar Raja and Santhosh Narayanan, who tried their hand at drumming together with Sivamani.

In addition to performing the “Ponni Nadhi” number, AR Rahman spoke at length about the research that went into finding the right soundscape for the project, with lyrics by Ilango Krishnan, Kabilan, Siva Ananth and Krithika Nelson. The opening parts of “Ponni Nadhi” in the film album were sung by the recently deceased singer Bamba Bakya. “I had done an entire album with him consisting of ten songs. Unfortunately, we can’t finish it now,” Rahman regretted.

A dream come true

When Jayaram divided the crowd with his on-set impersonation of Mani Ratnam, Karthi, Vikram and Jayam Ravi shared why it was important for this historical novel to be told on screen. Karthi said: “There are so many novels in Tamil but this one is special.”

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in Ponniyin Selvan

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in “Ponniyin Selvan” | Photo credit: special agreement

For Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, who spoke in Tamil on stage, this was an opportunity to return to her roots as an actress. “I started my acting training with Mani Ratnam Iruvar. Ponniyin Selvan is valuable in my journey as an actor.”

It is also valuable to actor Nasser, who had previously acted in a play based on the same novel. “Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan were also there on that occasion,” the actor revealed, “at the time I played the role of Aditya Karikalan, which Vikram is now portraying in the film. Even the rehearsals for this piece were like a journey into the past. Whenever I go abroad, I am asked about it Ponniyin Selvan. Like all of you, I’m looking forward to it.”

Produced by Subaskaran of Lyca Productions, the film will hit screens on September 30th. Mani Ratnam said: “After I finished my previous project Chekka Chivantha Vaanam, I met him (Subaskaran) who asked me what I wanted to do next. I said I wanted to record Ponniyin Selvan. It took him just two minutes to say yes to making what was a 70 year old dream for the Tamil film community a reality. will it be so Baahubali, he asked. I said no. will it be so Padmaavat, he asked. I said no again. Ponniyin Selvan will be as Kalki wrote.”

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