Unveiling India’s Glorious Cultural Heritage through Indian Filmmaker Mani Ratnam’s “Ponniyin Selvan: I & II

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage


The cinematic world was abuzz with anticipation as the maestro of Indian cinema, Mani Ratnam, embarked on a project that promised to be a magnum opus of historical proportions. “Ponniyin Selvan: I & II,” based on the iconic historical novel by Kalki Krishnamurthy, was not just another film—it was a journey back in time to the grandeur of the Chola dynasty, a period that stands as a testament to India’s rich cultural heritage. Released in 2022 and 2023, these films have captivated audiences worldwide, showcasing the opulence and brilliance of ancient Indian civilization through exquisite storytelling, stunning visuals, and meticulous attention to detail.

The Story and Its Historical Significance

“Ponniyin Selvan,” often hailed as one of the greatest works of Tamil literature, is set in the 10th and 11th centuries, during the reign of the Chola dynasty. The narrative intricately weaves the tale of Arulmozhivarman (later known as Rajaraja Chola I), whose ascent to the throne is marked by political intrigue, adventure, and valor. Mani Ratnam’s adaptation remains faithful to the novel, bringing to life its complex characters and the grandeur of the Chola empire.

The Cholas were known for their unparalleled contributions to art, architecture, and governance. Their reign marked a golden era of temple construction, maritime trade, and cultural proliferation. By choosing to adapt “Ponniyin Selvan,” Mani Ratnam not only pays homage to a beloved literary work but also resurrects an era that epitomizes the zenith of Indian cultural heritage.

Temples: The Pillars of Chola Architecture

One of the standout features of “Ponniyin Selvan: I & II” is its breathtaking depiction of Chola temples. The Cholas were master builders, and their temples are marvels of architecture, adorned with intricate sculptures and grandiose vimanas (towers). The films showcase several iconic temples, meticulously recreated to reflect their original splendor.

The Brihadeeswarar Temple, also known as the Big Temple in Thanjavur, is a prime example. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is celebrated for its towering vimana, detailed carvings, and colossal Nandi statue. Mani Ratnam’s portrayal of such temples is a visual feast, capturing the spiritual and architectural grandeur that these edifices represent. The attention to detail in the stone carvings, the depiction of temple rituals, and the sheer scale of these structures highlight the architectural genius of the Cholas.

Palaces and Royalty: A Glimpse into Regal Opulence

The Chola dynasty was known for its majestic palaces and opulent lifestyle, which Mani Ratnam has captured with remarkable authenticity. The sets, designed with painstaking detail, transport viewers to an era of regal splendor. The audience is treated to grand halls adorned with intricate frescoes, luxurious chambers, and royal courts bustling with activity.

The costumes, designed by Eka Lakhani, play a crucial role in bringing the Chola era to life. Each costume is a work of art, reflecting the rich textile heritage of the period. The use of silk, gold embroidery, and traditional jewelry is evident in the royal attire worn by characters, showcasing the opulence and elegance that defined Chola royalty. The filmmakers have ensured that every aspect, from the drape of the sarees to the design of the armor, remains historically accurate, immersing the audience in the splendor of the past.

Traditional Arts and Crafts: Celebrating Cultural Legacy

“Ponniyin Selvan: I & II” is a celebration of the Chola dynasty’s artistic legacy. The Cholas were great patrons of the arts, and their reign saw a flourishing of music, dance, and literature. Mani Ratnam’s film captures this cultural vibrancy through mesmerizing performances and artistic expressions.

The film features traditional dance forms, including Bharatanatyam, which has its roots in Tamil Nadu. The choreography, set against the backdrop of temple courtyards and royal gatherings, is a visual delight, showcasing the grace and elegance of classical Indian dance. The music, composed by A.R. Rahman, blends traditional Carnatic elements with contemporary orchestration, creating a soundtrack that resonates with the cultural ethos of the Chola period.

Artisans and craftsmen also play a pivotal role in the narrative. The films depict scenes of bronze casting, an art perfected by the Cholas, who are renowned for their exquisite bronze idols of Hindu deities. The attention to detail in these scenes highlights the skill and dedication of the artisans, preserving a craft that continues to thrive even today.


Mani Ratnam’s “Ponniyin Selvan: I & II” is more than just a cinematic adaptation of a beloved novel; it is a tribute to India’s glorious cultural heritage. Through the lens of this epic saga, audiences are transported to an era of unparalleled artistic and architectural achievements. The films stand as a testament to the grandeur of the Chola dynasty, showcasing their temples, palaces, traditional arts, crafts, and costumes with breathtaking authenticity.

By bringing this historical narrative to the silver screen, Mani Ratnam has not only honored Kalki Krishnamurthy’s literary masterpiece but also created a visual tapestry that celebrates the rich cultural heritage of India. “Ponniyin Selvan: I & II” is a cinematic journey that invites the world to witness the splendor of ancient India, preserving its legacy for future generations to cherish and admire.

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

By Mala Chandrashekhar

Introducing Blogger Mala Chandrashekhar - A specialist academically trained in modern Western sciences, yet deeply enamored with India's timeless ethnic arts, crafts, and textiles. Her heart beats for the rich and glorious cultural and spiritual heritage of India, and she has dedicated her entire blog to spreading the immortal glories of ancient India worldwide. Through her simple yet impactful blog posts, Mala aims to reach every nook and corner of the globe, sharing India's beauty and wisdom with the world.

But Mala doesn't stop at just sharing her own thoughts and ideas. She welcomes constructive criticisms and suggestions to improve her blog and make it even more impactful. And if you share her passion for India's culture and heritage, she extends a warm invitation for high-quality guest blog posts.

Ready to dive into the world of India's ageless beauty? Follow Mala on LinkedIn, Twitter & Facebook and join her in spreading the magic of ancient India to the world.

LinkedIn Profile:
Twitter Handle: @MalaCShekhar
Facebook Page:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *