Actor Vikram elucidated the importance of appreciating the Indian heritage, instead of only acknowledging the worth of foreign monuments, such as the pyramids and the Leaning Tower Of Pisa in Italy. At a press conference for his historical drama Ponniyin Selvan–a Mani Ratnam film based on the Chola dynasty–he talked about the structure of Indian temples and how they’ve withstood the test of time. Vikram also spoke about the power of the Chola King Rajaraja I who had demonstrated logic and compassion for his people, and hinted that India was as good as a superpower in those times as America was not even discovered yet and Europe was in the dark ages.
Vikram said, “Someone once said that we appreciate a building that doesn’t stand but we have Indian temples that stand. Before this particular stone, they had to use a ramp that was 6 km long, pulled by bulls, elephants and people, to get it up there without cranes, without machinery. They didn’t have plaster. It has withstood six earthquakes. What they’ve done is, they have an outerwall, they have a corridor of six feet, and they have another structure that goes all the way to the top, which is why they withstand earthquakes and why they’ve stood for so long.”
He continued, “So there are all these things we need to know and this particular king has built 5000 dams in his time and has made a water management ministry at that time. He’s had elections for village leaders, asked to name cities after women, after a queen, why should it only be men?”
Vikram added that the Chola kings helped people get dignity and did not waste money. “This happened in the 9th century, when we had the biggest maritime naval system in the world. It went all the way to Bali, Malaysia, and you know what the superpower was doing then? America hadn’t been discovered yet, and think about our culture, we need to be proud of it. It’s nothing to do with north India, south India. We are Indians and we need to feel proud (of it). Europe was in the dark ages, they had nothing going on. Don’t you think we should celebrate history?”
Mani Ratnam’s ambitious Ponniyin Selvan Part One chronicles the turbulent period in the history of the Chola kingdom, and is based on Kalki’s work of the same name. Vikram plays the role of Aditya Karikalan, a messenger who holds the key to ending the chaos and the misunderstanding between the Chola kings.