The full trailer of Mani Ratnam’s period extravaganza Ponniyin Selvan: I was launched today by Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth a glitzy ceremony in in Chennai. The two-part adaptation of Kalki Krishnamurthy’s bestselling novel of the same name has a sprawling cast that includes Vikram, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Karthi, Trisha, Jayam Ravi, Prakash Raj, Vikram Prabhu, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Kishore and Radhakrishnan Parthiban. The first part will be released on September 30 in cinemas in Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.

Ratnam has written the film with Elango Kumaravel. The dialogue is by writer B Jeyamohan, who had previously collaborated with Ratnam on Kadal (2013). The music is by Ratnam’s long-term collaborator AR Rahman. Ravi Varman has shot the film, Sreekar Prasad has edited it, and Thota Tharrani is behind the production design.

Part two is scheduled for a 2023 release. Mani Ratnam’s last film in cinemas was the crime drama Chekka Chivantha Vaanam in 2018.

Krishnamurthy’s novel was serialised between 1950 and 1954 and published in book form in 1955. The novel is set in the tenth century during Chola rule. Its themes include a succession battle, palace intrigue and unrequited romance.

Despite its popularity, the novel hasn’t been adapted for the screen until now. Mani Ratnam himself has tried to adapt the novel at least thrice in the past.

At the film’s teaser launch on July 8 in Chennai, Ratnam said, “It [the novel] is loved by everybody who has read it, they are an authority on it, they own it and they’re very possessive about it. I too am like that, I also own it, I’m also possessive and I will do it the way I want to do it.”

Ponniyin Selvan: I (2022).

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‘A magic that touches you inside’: The ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ book that has inspired Mani Ratnam’s film