(This article is authored by Alar)
Possibly the main criterion in classifying the movies into pre and post-Baahubali was Rajamouli's influence. Uncritical comparison is impossible in the case of Ponniyin Selvan and Baahubali because both films appear to be historical fiction. However, there is debate about whether to compare Rajamouli's and Maniratnam's dramas, as seen in the majority of social media posts, even the film crew requesting not to fairly compare them in promotions, interviews and everywhere possible. So, why Ponniyin Selvan and Baahubali shouldn't be compared?
While Ponniyin Selvan is "historic fiction," Bahubali is a "fantasy-action" movie. The Bahubali film series is entirely fictional and not based on real people. Ponniyin Selvan, however, combines real Chola kings with a few minimally added fictional characters to emphasise the entertainment and drama element for both readers and moviegoers.
The ace maker Rajamouli and his father Vijayedra Prasad wrote the Bahubali story. Rajamouli was inspired to write the script after hearing a story from his father about a woman named Sivagami who carries a child in her arms as she crosses a river, and about the Kattappa character. His love for Mahabharatha also helped him bring his Bahubali project to life.
On the other hand, Kalki Krishnamoorthy created a tale about the Chola dynasty after drawing inspiration from Raja Raja Chola, who delegated his throne to his maternal uncle, according to his granddaughter Gowri. Later, he became the King and his reign was a period of high prosperity. The 1955 novel by Kalki was based entirely on Chola's history.
Theme and style:
It is usual to assume that a film about a king will be centred on reign rivalry - who will be the next? And this theme will apply to the movies that revolve around this genre, not just to Ponniyin Selvan and Baahubali. Both the recurring drama passes through it in a similar manner. But notice this distinction -- the conflict in Baahubali was between two brothers, one of whom was good and the other was evil.
There will be a lot of battle scenes with Magizhmathi, the great kingdom, as the only subject Ponniyin Selvan, on the other hand, focuses on the characters and internal rivalry of the Cholas, revealing untold truths and buried pasts. Unlike Baahubali, Ponniyin Selvan is the greatest novel ever written in Tamil literature.
It is well known that Baahubali takes place entirely on Magizhmathi, and Kuntala (Devasena Native) on the sequel. However, the Ponniyin Selvan is a journey of the Cholas, covering the entire Chola dynasty in the book/movie. Thanjavur, Pazhayarai, Kadambur, Kudanthai (Kumbakonam), Sri Lanka, Kanchi, and so forth.
Hear from the maker himself:
Concludable from the creator himself, who was questioned by an audience about whether his Ponniyin Selvan is comparable to Bahubali. In response, Manirathnam said, "It would be similar to what Kalki wrote in his book. To the best of our abilities, that is what we have attempted daily since the first day." The veteran, who is also without self-image, previously admitted that after watching Rajamouli's attempt with Bahubali, which sowed the hope that a significant historical drama could be made in sequels, he took confident action to make the movie work.
When he was speaking to a Tamil media, Mani Ratnam was asked about the comparison between Ponniyin Selvan and Baahubali. He said, "Ponniyin Selvan is about Raja Raja Chola. He was the best emperor in Tamil Nadu. So, when we deal with him, it has to be honest and realistic and all other characters around him must be real. The story (of Ponniyin Selvan) comes through Vandhiyadevan, a common man like us and we see the story through his eyes. So, this is made in reality and there would be no fantasy world like how it was in Baahubali."
He further said, "There won't be any superheroes in Ponniyin Selvan, it will be realistic. Be it music, location, and visuals, everything will be real. It will have dust and mud. When we are taking the audience into a story like Kalki, it has to be real and it has to be in the fashion happening during that time. So, definitely, Ponniyin Selvan and Baahubali are completely different. Ponniyin Selvan is historical and Baahubali is complete fantasy. It (Ponniyin Selvan) deals with human emotion, drama, and values."
On the other hand, Jayam Ravi recently said in a popular media interview that when he told Rajamouli that they had finished two parts of Ponniyin Selvan in 150 days, Rajamouli stood up from the chair and said, "Don't say this again and frighten me. Two parts (of Baahubali) took me five years to complete." Jayam Ravi further said that Rajamouli's statement and conduct show how much respect he has for Mani Ratnam.