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Ponniyin Selvan to come alive on stage in Madurai


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    Ponniyin Selvan to come alive on stage in Madurai

    Ponniyin Selvan to come alive on stage in Madurai

    Ardent fans of Vanthiyathevan, Azhvarkadiyan Nambi and the valiant Pazhuvettarayar brothers will have an opportunity to watch those characters on stage in Madurai. For the first time, Ponniyin Selvan would be staged in the city for three days from June 27 at Lakshmi Sundaram Hall in K K Nagar.

    Published during the 1950s, this historical, romantic thriller and espionage novel narrates the story of Arulmozhivarman (later crowned as Rajaraja Chola I), the legendary Chola king. The novel is based on several real historical characters and incidents.

    One of the greatest historical books of all time, this epic is considered to be the most sought after, having repeated readership till date. Even during the book exhibition in Madurai organised by BAPASI early this year, Ponniyin Selvan was one among the bestsellers. The novel has transcended generations and even youth of today relish reading the novel.

    "The novel is a wonder," says Elango Kumaravel, Tamil film actor and script writer of the play.

    True to its popularity, all tickets for the three shows at Lakshmi Sundaram Hall that has a capacity of 786 seats have already been sold out. The play received overwhelming response in Chennai too where it was staged first earlier this month. After Madurai, Magic Lantern, the theatre group that has made the play is taking it to Coimbatore.

    "I think this play would run for packed halls for a long time to come," says director of the play and founder of Magic Lantern K P Pravin.

    The play has been produced by SS International Live. Many attempts to bring this epic into various forms like movie, TV serial and theatre have not borne fruit due to the enormous money that needs to be spent on sets, costumes, jewellery and the huge cast. This 3.5 hour play is performed by over 65 artistes.

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    Re: Ponniyin Selvan to come alive on stage in Madurai

    Ponniyin Selvan adds dash of history to stage

    Ponniyin Selvan, a play based on the historic novel by Kalki Krishnamurthy, was brought to the Coimbatore stage on Thursday by Chennai-based theatre group Magic Lantern.

    With a fast-paced script, a thrilling plot, simplified yet pure language, riveting performances and great music, the three-hour and 40-minute offering kept the audience at Kalai Arangam glued to their seats.

    The plot revolved around the confusion in the Chola empire about who should succeed emperor Sundara Chozhar (played by Vishwanathan Ramesh), who is ill. Everyone assumes his older son and warrior Aditha Karikalan (played by actor Pasupathy) would be anointed crown prince, but power-hungry councillor Periya Pazhuvettiyar (Ramasamy) and his wife Nandini (Meera Krishnamurthy) have plans to place Sundara Chozhar's cousin Madurantakan (Elavarasan Raja) on the throne. Then, there are a few assassins from the Pandya empire who want revenge for the killing of their emperor Veerapandian. Sundara Chozhan also seems to be battling a few demons of his own.

    A plot with so many twists and turns was spread over 2,400 pages and five novels. Condensing this epic novel into less than four hours was a daunting task, but it was executed crisply by scriptwriter A Kumaravel. Pravin, who directed the play had a firm grip on the large number of characters on the stage, which was designed by Thotta Tharani. At no point did Pravin allow the audience to get confused with the many sub-plots, characters or allow the screenplay to get sketchy.

    The fort setting by Thotta Tharani, some of the props and costumes by Preethi Athreya lent the stage a period atmosphere.

    The story begins with Vanthiyathevan (Srikrishna Dayal), who is sent by crown prince Aditha Karikalan with a scroll to protect the royal family. He uses his intelligence to smuggle messages on dry palm leaves into palaces to the emperor and his daughter Kundavai (Preethi Athreya). Kundavai begins to develop feelings for Vandiyathevan. Romance also blooms between Arulmozhi Varman and princess Vanathi, Kundavai's friend.

    The play had some great acting especially by Hans Kaushik who plays Azhwarkadiyan Nambi, the kingdom's prime minister's spy. His antics were a delight to watch. Ramesh takes us through a range of emotions, sorrow to anger to hopelessness and spells of sheer fear, in a couple of scenes. Elango Kumaravel, who plays magician Ravidasan, was also commendable. Dayal lights up the stage and seamlessly moves from act to act.

    While the female actors were on the other end of the spectrum when it came to acting perfomances, Gayathri Ramesh who plays Poonkuzhali or Samudrakani was an exception. "Her acrobatics, attitude and facial expressions make a long lasting impression. Yes, a pitfall of Ponniyin Selvan could be a few scenes that seemed stretched. The language in a few dialogues were difficult to follow.

    The women actors, except for Gayathri Ramesh as Poonkuzhali, make little impression.

    "It was very well done. The scenes moved into each other without any jumps in the plot. It left no questions unanswered either," said P Velumani, a member of the audience.

    "The costumes and actors were good but the story was the best," said Shantha K, who was in the audience.


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