Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is currently shooting in Thailand for Mani Ratnam’s Tamil period-historical drama Ponniyin Selvan. This is Aishwarya’s fourth collaboration with the remarkable Ratnam, and unarguably the almost ambitious collaboration. No other lead actress has collaborated with Mani four times, though Aditi Rao Hydari, who is also a part of Ponniyin Selvan, is getting close. This is her third film with Mani Ratnam.
The film adapted from Kalki Krishnmaurthy’s period-historical novel of the same title, has been in the pipeline for 20 years. Mani Ratnam at one point wanted to make it with a different cast included Kamal Haasan and Mahesh Babu. It’s finally happening.
But a Tamil period film in Thailand? Explains a source from Ratnam’s unit, “That’s because the film requires extensive shooting in temples. Mani Ratnam did not get permission to shoot in the temples of Tamil Nadu. That’s why the project fell apart the last time. This time, he has moved with his cast to Thailand to shoot in the temples there.”
Besides Aishwarya who plays a negative role, Ponniyin Selvan stars Vikram (with whom Mani Ratnam earlier collaborated in Raavan), Nayanthara (for the first time in a Mani Ratnam film) and Jayam Ravi.
There was talk of Nayanthara backing out and being replaced by Trisha due to date issues. But Nayanthara is very much in Ponniyin Selvan and shooting for the film, said to be the most expensive film ever directed by Mani Ratnam. The budget is supposedly around Rs. 150 crores.
A R Rahman collaborates with Mani Ratnam for the fifteenth time in Ponniyin Selvan, while Rahman’s regular editor Sreekar Prasad and action director Sham Kaushal are back on board.