South Indian actress Trisha hits a career milestone tomorrow on September 30 and what better way to celebrate than with a spectacular Mani Ratnam-directed period epic like ‘Ponniyin Selvan: 1’ in which she plays a fierce princess?
“I have never done a film like this before in the 20 years of my career,” said Trisha in an interview with Gulf News.
"This is the real package with music by AR Rahman, superb performances, the drama … This film has content. Every actor has wanted to be a part of this film and every filmmaker has been trying to make a film like this for the last 40 or 50 years," said Trisha.
‘Ponniyin Selvan: 1’ — which means Son of Ponni — is based on Kalki Krishnamurthy’s 1955 novel ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ and Trisha joins seasoned actors like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Vikram, Karthi, Jayam Ravi and Shobita Dhulilpala in the star-laden spectacle. This big-budget cinematic juggernaut filled with valiant warriors, fierce kings, and stoic queens chronicles the rise of the Chola empire in South India. South Indian hero Vikram leads from the front foot.
“This film is so rich in cultural history,” added Trisha, likening it to a fantasy adventure like the iconic Harry Potter movies.
Legendary director Mani Ratnam, whose credits include a string of stirring cinematic marvels like ‘Roja’, ‘Bombay’ and ‘Raavan’, has nailed a casting coup of sorts with this film. Several big names from Bollywood and South India have joined forces to make this period epic come alive.
Ahead of the release of ‘PS1’ in UAE cinemas on September 30, Trisha tells us why we should not miss the movie, her bond with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and how her fans have spurred her on in the last two decades. Here’s her take on …
Her role as a feisty princess Kundavai:
“What’s intriguing about this role is that back in the Chola era, women did not have much of a voice and it was a very male-dominated kingdom. And even if a princess had to say something in a room filled with men, she’s asked who gave her the permission to speak. But what I like about my role is that Princess Kundavai is an empowering role, even though it’s set in that era. I could relate to her and she’s just like any empowered woman of today who fights for their rights every single day. So it was intriguing for me to play a strong woman role in this film. Trust me, this film has two extremely strong women just like the book.”
Her legwork for this career-defining role:
“I happened to read the book, not because my director asked me to. I grew up in Chennai and my mother and grandmother had read this book. So when they knew that Mani sir was casting for it, they were all rooting for me to do it. At that time, out of curiosity I read that book. Usually, I am not into historical books and I'd rather watch it on screen, but I just couldn’t put the book down. I read all five volumes of the book over a period of one and a half months. But I would still call this film Mani Rathnam’s adaptation of Kalki’s novel.”
On her epic face-off with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan on the big screen:
“I am a little nervous about how that scene will be embraced … That scene is also a highlight in the book. I remember the whole set being geared up during that scene’s filming. We shot it over three days and it was an elaborate scene. And I think it’s going to be one of the stand-out scenes of the film.”
Working with a legend like Mani Ratnam:
“I don’t know what it is about him that makes him so popular and appealing. You know, he doesn’t believe in stars. He believes in actors and any actor who enters his office is told to unlearn whatever they have learned from cinema. He wants his actors to come to him as blank slate. His process is all about explaining the character to you and how he wants to bring out his version. He’s the most real person that I know … Even though this is a period drama set in a period from the past, he is convinced that human emotions are the same at any point … He kept telling all his actors to keep it real. He kept remind us that today everyone wants to watch characters that they can relate to and we followed that brief.”
The biggest challenge while playing the princess in an epic saga:
“The language spoken in this film is pure Hindi, Tamil, Telugu … Plus, we shot this film during the pandemic. Everyone was in masks and PPE suits except the artists. Our set was like a city by itself and there were at least a thousand men, a thousand horses and 10 elephants on most days … We got tested every three days if we travelled or took a flight. I don’t think anybody but Mani Ratnam could have pulled this off.”
Completing two decades in Indian cinema:
“This is my 20th year completion tomorrow [September 30]. I would honestly attribute it to luck and I don’t know what else to make of it. Remember, we all work hard and do our best but not all of us make it. I have tried to learn from my mistakes. But I would attribute my success to my fans who have stood by me irrespective of my highs and lows. My fans kept me going. They have always been so supporting. It’s their acceptance that has spurred me even during a year when I don’t have any release. My fans kept me going. When I look back, there’s only gratitude … Everything has been a blessing.”
Don’t miss it!
‘Ponniyin Selvan: I’ releases in UAE cinemas on September 30.