Chennai: Karthi, who plays ‘Vanthiyathevan’, one of the central characters in director Mani Ratnam’s eagerly-awaited magnum opus ‘Ponniyin Selvan’, says the film based on a novel by eminent writer Kalki is a gift to the younger generation.
Speaking at the teaser launch event of the film that was held at the Chennai Trade Centre on Saturday, Karthi said, “In our schools, we learn more about how we were colonised by foreigners. Yet, we keep calling ourselves Tamilians! If someone were to ask us what makes us great, many of us here wouldn’t know what to answer. We wouldn’t know how our kings were. How our kingdoms and their administrations were. But it is important that we learn all of these.
“There is a lot to say (about the kingdoms and the administrations then). Take for instance the Cholas. The Kallanai dam, which they built almost 2,000 years ago, is still intact even to this day.
“The Veeranam lake, which was providing water to Chennai to meet its drinking water needs, was built by them. Twenty kilometres in length and seven kilometres in breadth, the lake was built by the king who got his army to do that. Then, there is the famous Brihadeeshwarar temple or the Periya Kovil, which has no foundation but has a height of 216 feet.”
Aishwarya Rai as Queen Nandini from Mani Ratnam’s ‘Ponniyin Selvan’
Continuing to give more details of the other achievements of the Chola kings, Karthi said, “Even foreigners would only navigate on the sides of a water body. It was the Tamilians who learnt about the existence of undercurrents and used it to travel across seas.
“To this day, many of Tamil Nadu government’s welfare schemes were all formulated by the Cholas. There are several facts like these. But people like us who flip videos in 10 seconds don’t have the time for them.”
Karthi concluded by saying: “Presenting it in the format of a movie is a gift that Mani sir is presenting to the next generation. You cannot create history without learning history.
“The younger generation is going to see this (film) and learn. When you watch the movie, you will be overcome by a sense of pride. And when you feel pride, you want to preserve it. When you strive to preserve it, you make progress. I thank Mani sir for this big gift.”