Going to watch Mani Ratnam's magnum opus Ponniyin Selvan? This is the character cheat sheet you must know!

(This article is authored by Alar) 

Ace filmmaker Mani Ratnam has finally made the dream of Kollywood come true by adapting Kalki Krishnamurthy's 1955 novel 'Ponniyin Selvan'. 35 years of Mani Ratnam's thirst is now marching to the audience and the years of wait have come to days. The movie will be released on September 30. Given that readers' imaginations are unpredictable and undoubtedly will not match the creators', the versed audience will march to the theatres just to see how the maker made the characters and story come to life on screen. 

On the other hand, for the unversed, the story that Manirathnam has touched on is a periodic drama on the Cholas and that he is bringing big iconic stars to the silver screen for the first time in a while is the most exciting news, adding to the teaser, posters, and everything else just bubbling up the hype.

And such an unversed audience would perhaps need a cheat sheet to settle in the premiere seats so they can enjoy the show by knowing who's who, what's going on in the Chola lands, and why this Chola's fiction is significant to watch on screen. We will be covering the backstory as a second starter, after the characters' article, posted earlier.


The book tells the story of Arulmozhivarman's early years and chronicles his life before he attained power as Rajaraja Chola I (947–1014). Through Vandhiyathevan, a companion character, the author tells us the story. A unique aspect of the book is how Kalki tells the tale by combining fictional characters and actual Chola members. The majority of the time, the book makes the reader believe he might be the main character. Through his point of view, Kalki introduced all the characters and the plot to the readers. The story's primary theme is internal Chola conspiracies regarding who will succeed Sundara Chozha as king. However, vengeance, conflict, history, and power determine further justice.

Characters within the Chola family

Paranthaka Chola I, has three sons: Arinjaya, Rajaditya (who dies in war), and Gandaraditya. Arinjaya marries Kalyani and they have a son - Sundara Chola, The King (Played by Prakash Raj).  Gandaraditya marries Sembian Mahadevi (Jayachitra), and has a son named Senthan Amudhan. Sembian wished to honour her late husband's promise that his son should not be raised with a desire for the throne. 

He desired to live a typical life. She, therefore, has a strong focus on Shaivism and spends a lot of time praying in temples. The same is also led by Sendhan Amudhan. The history of this couple is subtly behind the conflict that, if we think, lies at the root of all upcoming internal rivalries and plots within the Cholas. Similarly to who will rule the throne after Sundara Chola, he had always desired his uncle's son Sendhan Amudhan would succeed him. But Sembian Mahadevi didn't want him to be the next.

Sundara Chola marries Vanavan Mahadevi and they have three children - Aditya Karikalan, the eldest (played by Vikram), the second is daughter Kundhavai (played by Trisha), and the youngest is Arulmozhi Varman (played by Jayam Ravi). Sundara Chola also had a love interest with Mandhakini, a deaf and dumb woman, when he visits Sri Lanka and they have two children - son Maduranthaka (played by Rahman) and daughter Nandhini (played by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan). 

Nandhini was ignored by her step brothers and step sister in her childhood and some situations leads to make her being revengeful toward Cholas. Maduranthakan, who also develops a calm nature, is a Shaiva devotee because of Sembian Mahadevi's fostering care. Vani Ammai was another deaf and mute sister to Mandhakini, who fosters Sendhan Amudhan. She had another brother- Thiyaga Vidangar, whose daughter is, Poonguzhali (Aishwarya Lekshmi), and a son named, Murugaiyyan.

Poonguzhali develops a love interest with Arulmozhivarman but later marries Sendhan Amudhan. Murugaiyyan married Raakammal, she later joins the antagonist Pandyas - Ravidasan group, for money greed. 

Characters around Cholas

Chola's court's prime minister is Anirudha Brammarayar(Mohan Raman), whose intelligent spy is Aazhvarkadiyan Nambi (Jayaram), who is an in-depth Vaishnava devotee and surprisingly a foster brother for Nandhini in the past. Other Tanjore Chola ministers are Pazhuvettaryars. Periya Pazhuvetarayar (Sarathkumar) is a chancellor of the court while Chinna Pazhuvettarayar (Parthiban) is a Fort commander of the Cholas. They both fall in lust with Nandhini, furtherly she will use them both for her revenge.

Vallavarayan Vandhiyathevan (Karthik Sivakumar), from the Bala dynasty, is a friend to Aditya Karikalan, Arulmozhi Varman, the love interest of Kundhavai, whom he later marries. Petty kings, supporting/ under the Cholas are Poothi Vikrama Kesari (Prabhu), whose niece is Vanathi (Shobita Dhulipala). An innocent and soft-natured lady, Vanathi grew up with Kundavai in the palace as she lost both her parents. Later, she marries Arulmozhivarman.

Malayamaan (M. P. Michael/ Lal) is the father of Vanavan Mahadevi and Sambuvarayar is played by Nizhalgal Ravi. Sambuvarayar has a daughter Manimegalai and a son Kandhamaran. Manimegalai later has a corner for Vandhiyavethavan, and Kandhamaran is a good friend to him. One Pallava man who is present in the world of Chola is Parthipendra Pallavan (Vikram Prabhu), who is a friend of Aditya Karigalan. 

The Antagonists:

Theveraalan (also known as Parameswaran), Idumbankkari, Ravidasan (as Kishore), Soman Sambavan (Riyaz Khan), and Revadasa Kiramavithan (Raakammal's father) are the book's antagonists. They plan to assassinate Chola's family members. In the Chola court, Ravidasan and Parameswaran once served as ministers.