Book Title: Ponniyin Selvan
Author: Kalki Krishnamurthy
Translator: C V Karthik Narayanan
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
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A Bird’s Eye View
About the Storyteller:
Kalki was the pen name of Ramaswamy Aiyer Krishnamurthy. He ran a Tamizhu magazine in the same name. The Ponniyin Selvan was part of the series which ran in Kalki magazine. It was so popular with the readers that the subscription for the magazine skyrocketed during the time when the series was published between the years 1951 to 1954.
Back then, the popular monthly activity among the reading public was to be engulfed in the vivid imaginative words that brought the past to life in the households of Tamizhu readers. Each plot progress and cliff hanger left the readers craving for more of the story.
Kalki was a prolific writer who wrote strong and passionate pieces in Tamizhu during the late freedom struggle days and the early days of post Independence years. His short stories are much more poignant and revolutionary.
Story in a Nutshell:
This is the story of the royal Chozha family. The story has a central connecting character who is portrayed like an exemplary hero. The main character Vallavarayan Vandiyathevan keeps the fine net of the story together. The readers root for him because he such a humane person with his specific quirks which adds to the character’s quality.
The story mixes the past history and the poetic licensed imagination of the author together into a composite whole experience. The story ends midway after the Arulmozhivarman’s (Otherwise known as Rajaraja Chola I) coronation.
My Likes and Dislikes
I absolutely loved the first historical novel in my pitara of novels. This story was such a fascination for me, that I was taken in by the scenic expanses and minute details of the entire event in the life of the Chozha dynasty. The characters were no longer just historical figures but living and breathing human beings.
The way I rooted for the hero to be safe and enjoyed the endless skirmish that he got into during his journey to deliver a letter, is absolutely timeless. I couldn’t stop re-reading the novel three times and each time I couldn’t put the book down.
The one thing that I disliked the most was that the story got over. What happened to the main character Vallavaryan Vandiyathevan? A question that has become a reverberating and a niggling thought in my mind. It is a separate back story about how I got this book and was besotted by the tried horse which had such umph factor in him.
I would suggest to read this book from start to finish or enjoy it in piece-meal fashion in keeping with each lull that happens after each series. I don’t think I had the patience when the story picked warmth in the very first chapter. I almost memorized “The First Floods” (Volume 1).
Image Source: Personal Collection