In the melee of films released for Ayudha Poojai, one trailer stood out! Kashmora stars Karthi and Nayanthara with a good measure of Computer Graphics (CG) thrown in and looks like it has what it takes to steal the thunder from other Diwali releases.
Mythologies and tales of magic were predominantly seen in the Telugu and Tamil films of yore. The dialect spoken was pure Thamizh/Telugu and cinema till the 60s took its stories from our epics and legends. Slowly when the narrative moved away from royal tales to social drama, indulging in outdoor shoot for song and dance, the language also came closer to real-life. How magnificent the sets and costumes are even in black and white! And they didn’t even have a monitor-screen then to check frame-details during shoot like there is today.
Baahubali (2015) — the mother of all CG flicks set the standard for such ‘once-upon-a-time-fairy-tales’ to unfold on screen. I’ve always wondered how splendid it would’ve been had Mani Ratnam made his version of Ponniyin Selvan. Over the years this one saga from our renowned genius- writer Kalki has caught the fancy of many film personalities. MGR wanted to produce it but the project was dropped half-way. Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth were forerunners for this tale of Arunmozhi Varman and Vandhiya Thevan, but that too didn’t take off. Mani Ratnam assembled a dream cast of Vijay, Mahesh Babu, Vikram, Nayanthara and Anushka but the film didn’t kick-start. Ponniyin Selvan is now a successful stage play directed by actor Kumaravel, with the applause rising every time a familiar dialogue or scene unfolds on that cleverly propped-up set. It is proof for the long-standing popularity of Kalki’s magnum opus.
CG & SFX have taken over film-making by storm today but take the 1957 Telugu-Tamil bilingual classic Maya Bazaar — beautifully shot by Marcus Bartley who recreated an illusionary moonlight on set, the film holds its ground till date. The script doesn’t hinge on its special-effects but rests comfortably on its writing, music (12 songs in all!) and its supremely entertaining actors — SV Ranga Rao as Ghatothkachan, Savitri as Princess Vatsala and NT Rama Rao as Lord Krishna. A May 2013 CNN-News18 poll listed Maya Bazaar as the greatest Indian film of all time. Visionary-producer Nagi Reddy’s Vijaya Vauhini Studios (Forum Mall in Vadapalani stands in its place today) produced Maya Bazaar which handles stories from the Mahabharatha no less.
Now that Netflix and Amazon are firmly ensconced in the entertainment space I can only hope someone comes forward to produce Ponniyin Selvan so we can see those iconic characters in film too, either as a web-series or a two-part feature film like Baahubali. Kalki has left behind a winning screenplay with interesting characters and dramatic twists which leads up to the coronation of the great Raja Raja Cholan. All Ponniyin Selvan needs is a visionary-producer, a competent director who can do justice to Kalki’s imagination and actors who can pronounce the royal dialect. Sigh... if only Rajamouli could read Tamil!