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The audio launch of the historical biopic Ponnar Shankar, starring Prashanth in his first dual role since Jeans and directed by Thiyagarajan, was held yesterday in Coimbatore. It was grand occasion attended by many leading people from cinema and politics. Why politics? Well, the movie is Kalaignar’s 76th as script writer, and for the audio launch of such a film, you are sure to expect the who’s who from the state’s political scene to be present. Kalaignar was the central presence while many other ministers including Arcot Veerasamy were also seen.

But, it was not just cinema and politics, many prominent personalities from Coimbatore and surrounding regions were also present. After all, the Ponnar Shankar legend comes from Kongunaadu. Among those present were Pollachi Mahalingam, V S Kuzhandaisamy, Silamboli Chellappan and Best Ramasamy.

One of the grandest!

The film has been in the making for over two years now and is set to release this April. The audio launch featured the screening of an exclusive trailer and a couple of songs to those present. From what was seen, it looked like Prashant’s and Thiygarajan’s best work to date. It also looked and felt like on of the best biopics from Tamil cinema, and that is saying a lot because we have had films like Veerapandiya Kattabomman and Kappalottiya Thamizhan. This is a complete quantum leap for both actor and director in the kind of work that they have done. Contrary to popular belief, this film will not be a scrappily put together piece of double action period drama. From the glimpses that were given on Sunday, it looks like one of the grandest ventures undertaken in recent times, taking into account even Shanakar’s extravaganzas. The special effects, art and camera seem to be amongst the best that we have seen in Tamil cinema.

Unlike Dasavatharam – Napoleon

Speaking at the function, Napoleon, playing an important character in the film, said that this would be a landmark for Tamil cinema. He recalled that Sivaji Ganesan’s Parasakthi had been a legendary movie and rues not having been part of it. However, he had the opportunity to work in a film called Puthiya Parasakthi. But, he thinks that his efforts in Ponnar Shankar will reveal a new dimension to his acting. He talked about his small role in Dasavatharam and made evident his disappointment about being unable to contribute more. Even that cameo had got him a lot of appreciation. Ponnar Shankar, however, he said, unlike Dasavatharam, had offered him full scope.

Even Bollywood was stunned – Ilayaraja

Music for Ponnar Shankar has been scored by the Maestro Ilayaraja. He wanted to be very modest about the film because he too was part of the crew, but couldn’t help gushing over the work of Thiyagarajan. He said that the word grandeur in Tamil cinema was always associated with Shankar, but after Ponnar Shankar, even Thiyagarajan would be in the same bracket. He recalled an incident which had happened while the re-recording of the film was on in Mumbai. The crew of a Bolywood film happened to be present in the same studio and watched a song. They were literally overawed by the grandeur that they saw on screen and wanted to know whether it could be dubbed to Hindi. They admitted that such high standards were not seen even in Hindi cinema. He said that he was restraining himself from hyping the movie further because he considered it inappropriate, being part of the crew himself.

Thank you, Kalaignar!

Thiyagarajan profusely thanked Kalaignar for consenting to write the script for the movie and also for attending the launch in spite of the election buzz. He spoke about the huge effort put in by everybody in recreating the period and said that this would be a landmark for all involved. He also expressed awe at the skills and foresight of Kalaignar in being able to answer all his queries related to filming.

Kalaignar’s words

Finally Kalaignar spoke and he said that when Thiyagarajan approached him with a proposal to write a script for the historical biopic, he gladly accepted it and completed the initial work within 15 days. He was constantly being consulted by the team on various matters. He said that the team had done extremely well and was all praise for Prashanth and Thiyagarajan.

And, going by the rules of the season, there was a bit of politics thrown in as well. Kalaignar said that screen writing was his permanent profession, the ‘other’ used to happen on and off. He said that many people in cinema now wanted to go to the ‘other’ profession. He also defended the strong presence of his family in the film industry and said that most big production houses of the state were also being run in a dynastic manner and he did not see any problem with his family too being involved in a business that he was involved in for nearly half a century.

Ponnar Shankar has now generated expectations amongst the film fraternity and is set to hit screens in April.

Tags : Thiyagarajan, Kalaignar, Prashanth, Sivaji Ganesan, Ilayaraja
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