One of filmmaker Mani Ratnam’s biggest challenges in the process of adapting Kalki Krishnamurthy’s epic Ponniyin Selvan for the screen was the novel’s sheer volume. But, it seems the director had clarity as to what should stay and what should go when he makes the film.
“I think when you converted it (novel) into a script, you have to follow some spine and go with it. My writer told me the best line I heard before the film. He said, ‘Read the book once, throw it away and then you write,” Ratnam told Film Companion.
The master storyteller noted that he has borrowed the basic narrative technique from the novel, to navigate the world of the Cholas that Kalki has created. “Kalki’s novel goes through one character called Vandiyadevan, and through him, we travel and meet everyone else. I think that’s the path we have all taken to convert a five-part book into a two-part film. There are some parts you should know how you skip and crunch. And some characters you leave out. And try to be honest within this,” he added.
The director suggested that the novel is so dense that there is enough material for more movies. But, as always, finding enough budget was a huge problem. “I’m sure it can be done as 5 or 10 different films. It’s possible. I think the budget that we had did allow more than this. Two is good enough,” he said.
Ponniyin Selvan: 1 stars Vikram, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Jayam Ravi, Karthi, Trisha, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Sobhita Dhulipala, Prabhu, R Sarathkumar, Vikram Prabhu, Jayaram, Prakash Raj, Rahman and R Parthiban. It’s due in cinemas this Friday.