‘Ponniyin Selvan: I’ Review: Where Women Steal the Show

Bow down, because the queens have arrived.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as Nandini (Ponniyin Selvan: Part One)

Dilani Rabindran


October 1, 2022

Princess Kundavai (Trisha) and Queen Nandini (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) reluctantly approach one another outside the Chola palace, each looking to outwit the other while pretending to lovingly embrace. Adorned in gold and splendor, the two leaders are surrounded by throngs of their subjects. While one looks to save her kingdom and continue her family’s benevolent reign, the other is thirsty for revenge. This beautifully crafted scene in Ponniyin Selvan: I stands out in a grand film where, metaphorically speaking, strong male warriors play checkers for power while the women play chess. Based on a five-part historical 1950s fiction series by Kalki Krishnamurthy, Ponniyin Selvan: I tells the tales of the Chola dynasty. This real-life family ruled a large kingdom in Tamil Nadu during the medieval period and was one of the longest-ruling empires in the world. Mani Ratnam’s highly-anticipated film — the first in a two-part series — finally hit theatres on September 30. Despite the magnificent costumes, production design, and elaborate battle scenes on land and sea, it’s the female performances in Ponniyin Selvan: I that will leave a lasting impact on audiences.

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