Magic Lantern's Ponniyin Selvan - A review

Like any other hard-core Ponniyin Selvan fan, I felt that it would be impossible to condense a five-part story within 3 1/2 hours of stage show. I thought it would be a hurried dramatization of important scenes strung together. But these guys seriously pulled it off. Hats off to them!

Cast and crew of Ponniyin Selvan

With the aid of two characters who appear in almost all the scenes, the play takes the audience back to the Chola age with the aid of great props, costumes and performance. Vandiya Devan brings to the stage the same flirtatious charm which had captured our hearts for so long. Azwarkadiyan looks a lot more fitter than Kalki imagined him but he makes up for all that fat with a stellar performance.

I was a tad disappointed by Periya Pazhuvetarayar and Anirudha Bhramarayar but the former makes up for it in the last death scene. Loved the performance of Aditya Karikalan, Sundara Chola, Parthibendra Pallavan, Ravidasan and most of all Ponniyin Selvan.

To script a play that has captured the imagination of so many people all over the world, is very difficult. I am sure the script writer, Elango Kumaravel would have faced the dilemma of what to keep and what to eliminate from the original novel. His script is crisp, up-to-the-point and rightfully disposes of characters who are not part of the main plot.

Vandiya Devan's antics are a treat to watch and so are azhwarkadiyan's. Their adventures in Srilanka are not only fun but quite dramatic with a fantastic swordplay and the introduction of Ponniyin Selvan was met with whistles and claps.

The music and the presentation deserve a word of praise. Paul Jacob's apt presentation and the reverberating drums whenever Nandini and the Pandya assassins made their presence, was fantastic. The stage props and especially the images that were projected in the background was crucial as it constantly reminded the audience where the story was taking place; seashore, Sri Lanka, Thanjavur, forest etc. Kudos to Thotha Tharani (art director), Preethi Athreya (Costumes), Siva and Hans kaushik (played Nambi) (props), Bala (lighting), Selva (Sound Design) and Balaji Devi Prasad (Stage Manager)

With Elango Kumaravel (Scriptwriter & Ravidasan (in the play) and Balaji Devi Prasad (Stage Manager)

Overall, Director Praveen has done a commendable job in bringing to the stage, the magnum opus of Tamil Literature.

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