Ponniyin Selvan (PS1) is all set to unfold its magnificence on screens worldwide on 30th September 2022. This is an epic historical fiction, written by Kalki Krishnamoorthi in the 1950s. This has been the best seller over the last 70 years, year on year. Set in the 10th century this deals with the period just before the dawn of a golden era.
Creative Genius Mani Ratnam is known to do things very differently – this goes for every aspect of the film making right from choosing the characters, the scenes, and for a film like this, jewels, which also tells a story by itself.
Around 400 pieces of real jewellery were handcrafted for the lead, secondary and tertiary characters who were a part of court celebrations, dance, and scenes of battles. The design and production of jewels involved over 50 artisans, took over six months from inspiration, to studying history, to character specification. All aspects of temple jewellery production, including moulding, filing, and finishing, were done by hand.
Speaking about his collaboration with the Jewellery Designer for PS Mani Ratnam says “Kishandas is one of the best things that happened during the making of PS. Our aim was to present the film as realistically as possible. We mostly shot in real locations with minimal sets. We did not want the film to be a fantasy costume drama. Like Locations and costumes, jewellery becomes a very important part of this effort of ours to make it look authentic and not false.”
When you watch the stills of Ponniyin Selvan (PS1), you find that each of the characters had to wear heavy jewellery, so when you locked your cast, did you also have this thing in mind, yes, the cast must be able to carry them as elegantly as a real person in the era.
PS1 Jewellery Designer Kishandas made exquisite real jewellery – Mani Ratnam
“This film needed extensive pre-production. We had several trials for the look of each of the characters. We did photo shoots with costumes and jewellery. The artists were well prepared by the time they came to the shoot.” Mani Ratnam added.
Kishandas’ work was exquisite. They put in as much effort into the film as we did. A lot of pieces were designed just for this film. Every detail was taken care of.
The research team from Madras Talkies included historians who studied the motifs and styling of the Chola dynasty with details such as the Cholas following Shaivism, their emblem a tiger and crafted a detailed brief of each character with specific, real identities from the outset. Six Jewellery designers from Kishandas further studied how to create jewellery specific to the era and the characters, considering clothing, hair styling, make- up, and the elements specific to each of the characters.
For a film that demands such a variety of jewellery, has the jewellery designer succeeded in bringing your imagination to reality?
Nandini, the Queen of Pazhuvoor, played by Aishwarya Rai, Princess Kundavai played by Trisha, Sobhita as Vanathi and Aishwarya Lekshmi as Poonguzhali, have worn truly iconic pieces of jewellery in the movie. The teaser and the trailer show us glimpses of the various costumes they wear. The jewellery was designed to complement the silhouettes while also allowing the characters to shine.
To enhance the character’s beauty, traditional jewellery such as nose pins, vankis, arm bands, vaddanams, hair pieces, and neck pieces with traditional motifs were created. The ornaments inspired by temple jewellery of the era adorned by the Queen and Princesses were Thussis, Long and Medium Necklaces, Maang tikas, Maatha pattis, Jhumkas, rings and bangles made in gold, predominantly set in burmese rubies, some emeralds & uncut diamonds.
Waist belts, hip chains, armlets, and the typical vankis worn by today’s brides, were also made in various styles to complement the costumes, silhouettes, and hair accessories based on the elaborate hairstyles, buns, and hairdos specified for each of the character’s varying hairstyles were among those created. Each piece was created to blend well with the costume, and the hair styling. The motifs used were mostly flowers, birds, lotus, peacock, parrots, gods, goddesses and filigree work on the jewellery which is relevant to the Chola era.
They incorporated a lot of motifs and designs of the Chola period. They were aware of the nature of each character and designed the jewellery keeping that in mind. They were a big support to us.
Madras Talkies and Lyca Productions #PS1 (Ponniyin Selvan) is releasing in theatres on 30th September in Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada!
Kishandas were the first and the only one. From the very first meeting, we knew that they cared about the story, the characters, and the period. And they seemed very happy to be a part of the film. So, it was a win-win. Mani Ratnam explains.