Ponniyin Selvan for non-readers...This is the cheat sheet you need to read before you watch on screens!

(This article is authored by Alar) 

Ponniyin Selvan by Ramaswamy Krishnamurthy (Kalki), which was published in five parts and had more than 2000 pages, sold an astounding 71,366 copies. After decades of waiting, acclaimed filmmaker Mani Ratnam is finally bringing his long-held dream to life by adapting Kalki's 1955 novel "Ponniyin Selvan," which will be relished by moviegoers in a day. The director's magnum opus will hit the screens on September 30. 

If the filmmaker travelled to various nations to gather information for his adaptation, the author, who originally wrote the novel, made three trips to Sri Lanka in the 1950s itself to perfectly capture the great Cholas. For the unversed, the announcement that Mani Ratnam is directing 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. 

Perhaps the unversed audience needs a cheat sheet to settle in the premiere seats so they can enjoy the show a little bit more by knowing who's who, what's going on in the world of Cholas, and why this Chola fiction is significant to watch on screen. We will be covering the backstory as the second starter in line with our previous article about the characters. 


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. 

What's in the epic Ponniyin Selvan

The emperor of the Chola Kingdom, Sundara Cholan was paralysed, unable to move. He brought from Pazhayarai to Thanjavur, by Pazhuvettarayars. Folks would be aware that a comet that appears in the sky is mentioned, as per the trailer. According to the prophecy, a member of the Chola family will pass away. It was expected that Sundara Chola will soon pass away because he has been ill for a long time. 

Aditha Karikalan is the crown prince and the legitimate heir to the throne, if that is the case. Madurantakan's desire to succeed Sundara Chola causes conflict. Given their increased power, the Pazhuvettaraiyars also think Madurantakan will make a better king. In light of this, Periya Pazhuvettaraiyar, his wife Nandhini, and other smaller kings conspire against Aditha Karikalan. 

Some claim that Pazhuvettarayars literally imprison the king in the palace. The king is heavily guarded by Periya and Chinna Pazhuvettarayar, making it difficult for anyone to see him. In the book, the Pazhuvettarayars are portrayed as the antagonists, staging a coup to prevent Aditha Karikalan (Vikram), the elder son of Sundara Chola, from becoming king. Nandini Devi is played by Aishwarya Rai as the wife of Periya Pazhuvettarayar (Sarath Kumar). Instead, they favour Karikalan's cousin Madhuranthagan becoming the new emperor.

Aditha Karikalan has been working on his parents' golden fort in Kanchipuram throughout this time. He wants his parents to join him in the fort and live there. He, therefore, sends Vallavarayan Vanthiyathevan (Karthi) with two goals. 1. To invite Sundara Cholan to Kanchipuram. 2. Then, he has to travel to Pazhayarai, another Chola capital city, to meet Kundhavai, also known as Ilaya Pirattiyar (Trisha), the sister of Aditha Karikalan, and deliver a top-secret message. 

When he completes one task, another one comes looking for him. Aditha Karikalan is in Thanjavur's northernmost region, while Arulmozhi is in Sri Lanka's far-southern Eelam. His father has sent him to seize Eelam. On the other hand, the Chola Princess Kundavai Piratti thinks that her younger brother Arunmozhi Varman would make a better heir to the throne. The second conflict begins with this. To bring Arulmozhivarman to the country, she dispatches Vandhiyathevan to Sri Lanka.

On the other hand, the Chola kingdom faces a threat from their enemy -The Pandyas. The bodyguards of Veerapandiyan, who was assassinated by Aditya Karikalan, infiltrate the Chola kingdom, as all the key figures are located far from the capital. Ravidasan, Parameshwaran, Iduman Kari, Soman Sambavan, and Devaaralan are internal foes. With the assistance of Nandhini, who is the queen of Pazhuvur, they seek retribution for their king.

Our previous article about characters: Going to watch Mani Ratnam's magnum opus Ponniyin Selvan? This is the character cheat sheet you must know!