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
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
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
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.
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