It was a tough day in the office if you are a movie reviewer in India with two huge films releasing on the same day, both with enough star power. While one is from the Hindi film industry, Vikram Vedha, the other is Ponniyin Selvan Part 1, aka PS 1, from Tamil Cinema.
PS 1 is a historical drama based on Kalki’s literary magnum opus. The film promises a grand presentation that will hook you to the screen. Does it deliver? Well, for that, you will have to read my Ponniyin Selvan honest review.
I am adding “honest” because I have seen many paint a rosy picture to attract audiences into the theater but I will not do that.
Ponniyin Selvan Part 1 (PS 1) Review Summary
I have never been so disheartened after watching a film on the big screen. Unfortunately, Ponniyin Selvan is a colossal disappointment, mainly because of poor and unsustainable writing.
There are a few glimmers of hope, but that’s about it. Keep reading my PS 1 review to uncover the pluses and minuses of the film.
Ponniyin Selvan Part 1 (PS 1) Synopsis
After Vandiyathevan is asked to deliver a message from Adithya Karikalan, the crown prince, he discovers a conspiracy by a group of chieftains to get their desired king on the throne.
Directed by Mani Ratnam, Ponniyin Selvan Part 1 stars Karthi, Vikram, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and Trisha Krishnan in lead roles.
What Works for Ponniyin Selvan Part 1 (PS 1)?
Not much works in favor of this Mani Ratnam directorial. I had to think for a while before jotting down the headliners for my Ponniyin Selvan review. Here’s what I could come up with.
Created by the maestro, AR Rahman, Ponniyin Selvan’s songs are a treat. The tunes have a great rhythm, and you would consider them a saving grace in this otherwise tiresome film. Maybe, the makers should have added more songs by Rahman in Ponniyin Selvan.
Every angle of Ponniyin Selvan has perfection. People behind the camera have done a tremendous job of controlling the falling narrative with their lens. Be it the underwater scenes or miniature wars, the cinematography of PS 1 never disappoints.
Well, nothing much to talk about here as well. Ponniyin Selvan has a brilliant cast, but the makers don’t give the actors the time to flourish. What is the point of having someone like Vikram in the lead when you don’t capitalize on his presence?
There was a vast scope to enhance Vikram’s character, but I was shocked to see the makers chopping his wings to keep him grounded. An actor of his caliber deserved much better.
The only silver lining in Ponniyin Selvan is Karthik Sivakumar, aka Karthi. He showers you with a multifaceted performance that goes beyond the realms of judgment. His comic timing falls right, the intensity doesn’t disappoint, and expressions consume you. Karthi is what Ponniyin Selvan should have looked like as a whole.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan casts a decent web of magic, but the overpowering artificial glow on her face distracts you a lot. She is already beautiful, and I wonder why the makers had to keep the annoying warm white lighting around her face. It also happens with Trisha.
Prakash Raj, in a cameo, does what he ought to do. Moreover, I wish Parthiban was used more in the movie. He is restricted to dialogues when he could have done much more with his expressions.
Everyone else is honest in Ponniyin Selvan. I don’t have much to write because the film didn’t give enough screen space to the major performers. Added to it is a mediocre presentation that kept me at bay throughout.
What Doesn’t Work for Ponniyin Selvan Part 1 (PS 1)?
Are you prepared to watch a big screen film with a highly complex setup? I think most of you would say yes. What if the same is combined with a lackluster plot? For almost three hours, Ponniyin Selvan simply tries to force itself on the audience.
When the theme is a historical drama, draped in action and fantasy, the story matters a lot. Most of the cinema-going audience is not interested in a history lecture; they want stimulations, which doesn’t happen with Ponniyin Selvan.
In the theater, the people around me were craving to leave, but the monetary investment didn’t allow them to. Some even utilized the air-conditioned atmosphere to take a nap.
The writing is too colorless for the silver screen. Only the sarcastic part had some power, while the rest was straightforward. I am not saying you have to infuse heavy dialogues; however, you need to make it easier for the viewer to understand the concept. That’s how you will be able to cater to a diverse audience.
Ponniyin Selvan presumes that the audience already has knowledge about the topic. Probably because it is based on Kalki’s book. They should have been a little lenient with the people who haven’t read the literary work.
Simply put, Ponniyin Selvan’s plot is not arousing enough to keep you engrossed for three hours. It is full of uninteresting elements. The build-ups don’t work for the film, and you are left annoyed for the most part.
Again, the speed of narration is languid for Ponniyin Selvan. It sends you into a zone of dreariness and makes you wonder if things could have been better. The pace never really takes off, and the tempo remains consistently low. Here, I am not talking about the action and chase scenes but the pace of the narration.
As I have mentioned above, three hours of Ponniyin Selvan are too much to handle. The film is too long to sustain the viewers in the cinema hall.
You can avoid Ponniyin Selvan Part 1 and hope they don’t come up with the second one as promised. PS 1 is plagued by unexciting writing, shabby screenplay, and an uninteresting storyline. Even if there’s a PS 2, I hope Mani Sir gets it right.