ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

To Poonguzhali

 Poonguzhali is sexualised and objectified by the characters of Ponniyin Selvan and the film-maker on account of her marginalised caste.

Even the princess of the seas was not spared by the piercing, deadly jaws of a monstrous institution that emerges from the deep, millennia-old abyss of necrosing morals, eating away at one’s dignity, inch by inch. A remarkable piece of cinematic grandiosity, Mani Ratnam’s adaptation (2022–23) of Kalki Krishnamurthy’s novel Ponniyin Selvan (1955) showcases the epic journey of a young, enterprising prince who performs numerous feats of bravery to ascend the throne of the sprawling Chola empire, flanked by his elder brother’s martial exploits and sister’s mindful statecraft. A plot that boasts a labyrinthine trajectory is nevertheless marked by a fairly simplistic disclosure of ancient prejudices abounding in Indian society, to such a great extent that they have fused thoroughly with its superstructures.

A movie steered by powerful female characters, this Tamil epic exhibits differential treatment offered to women figures evidently occupying a subaltern caste location. Kundavai and Nandini, both towering women of rival royal lineages, are distinctly characterised as bearers of immense social capital—authority, honour, social veneration, and romantic desirability. Their beauty and capability are showcased in such a manner that they invoke awe and admiration, while their feminine identity is deemed a rightful proprietor of “cultural sophistication.” This is legitimised by the dignified manner these figures are generally referred to both by the other characters in the movie as well as by the director through verbal and non-verbal cues within the cinematography. The perceptual background of these characters lies in alignment to their dominant caste locations as privileged royal women, therefore reinforcing their status as “the bearers of ritual purity” and caste-based honour, as Brahminical traditions dictate.

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here


To gain instant access to this article (download).

Pay INR 50.00

(Readers in India)

Pay $ 6.00

(Readers outside India)

Updated On : 11th Sep, 2023
Back to Top