The upcoming Mani Ratnam film Ponniyin Selvan-1 spells royalty as it uses actual gold jewellery for its characters and was designed keeping in mind the small details of the Chola period. The film, based on Kalki Krishnamurthy's 1955 novel of the same name, tells the story of the early days of Arulmozhivarman, who later became the great Chola emperor Rajaraja Chola I. Mani Ratnam is known to do things very differently - and this goes for every aspect of filmmaking, right from choosing the characters, the scenes, and for a film like this, jewels, which also tell a story.
Talking about the jewellery design of the film, the director of the film, Mani Ratnam said in a conversation with IANS: "We gave special emphasis to the costume to make them believable and lend the period-specific authenticity and still evoke that sense of royalty. We were very lucky to have Kishandas (the jewellery designer) on board with us and we worked with actual gold jewellery."
He added: "The artisans worked around the small details of the Chola period and made the ornaments specific to the characters."
Gold, though, tends to behave differently on camera given its radiance. So was there a lot of back and forth on the design? The director revealed: "It was not very difficult once we figured out the texture. It was more about the design that we focussed on as to what will be right for a particular character."
To enhance the characters' 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 and 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, along with hair accessories based on the elaborate hairstyles, buns, and hairdos specified for each of the characters. 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.
Ponniyin Selvan I which features an ensemble star cast of Vikram, Karthi, Trisha, Jayam Ravi, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sobhita Dhulipala, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Prabhu, R. Sarathkumar, Vikram Prabhu, Jayaram, Prakash Raj, Rahman and R. Parthiban, is arriving in cinemas on September 30.