Friday, November 04, 2011

Ponniyin Selvan

As I had said in the post, my interest to read the Ponniyin Selvan series was kindled after my trip to Swamimalai which included visiting the great Chola temples, Gangai Konda Cholapuram and Darasuram. I had said then that I will try to read the series in Tamil. Well, if my wishes were horses, the galloping sounds they would have made would have caused world-wide noise pollution. Given that, my wish largely remained a wish (my abominable Tamil reading skills ensured that)  and I eventually wound up reading the entire series in English.

The verdict? Definitely worth reading. There are five volumes with the fifth part being split into two books. The story is fact woven with fiction. All the principal characters are real flesh and blood people who lived in the 9th century AD. If you are familiar with the towns and cities in the Kumbakonam-Thanjavur region, you will surely get goosebumps when you read some of the place-names in the book - those towns have been in existence for more than a thousand years now!

The series has several passages which describe the beauty of the Chola country. You can see the lush green fields, the beautiful river Cauvery and its tributaries, the abundant stone mandapams and grand Siva temples with ardent devotees come to life before your eyes. Those were the places where I sorely missed reading the  book in Tamil. The passages have been translated decently enough in English but quite understandably, they lack the beauty that Tamil would have given them.

The story by itself is quite gripping. Book five especially has a significant event happening in almost every chapter. It was when reading part 5 that I was pretty much deaf to the world and could be spotted carrying my book everywhere. I can imagine how readers would have waited with bated breath for every edition of Kalki magazine back in the 1950s when the story was first published in it as a series! No wonder the circulation of the magazine shot up then.

My favorite character in the entire series is the boat-girl Poonguzhali. What a fiesty and spirited character! She manages to outshine even the "heroes" when featured along side them. What a woman!

Now I have re-embarked on my "read Ponniyin Selvan in Tamil" project. I really think reading the series in Tamil would be totally worth it. Let's see how that plan goes!


Altoid said...

You go girl! At least you can attempt PS in tam, I couldn't go there. I loved Poonguzhali too but couldn't stand Vanathi, the delicate darling :P

Archana said...

Oh me too, me too - I felt like kicking Vanathi hard! Good that she redeemed herself a little bit towards the end else my opinion of Arulmozhivarmar would have seriously gone down a lot!!

Anonymous said...

Reading Ponniyin Selvan in English is equivalent to watching those sunday afternoon hollywood dubbed movies in Sun / Vijay TV's :-))

- Krishnan

SK said...

Its an amazing book, very well written in Tamil! Such creativity in writing for those days. And LOL@Krishnan's comment :--)
Arch, when you finish the book your tamil reading skills would surely have improved many fold :--)

poorna said...

Good luck for your reading-in-tamil project! There is so much mann vasanai in the tamil version. Worth every hour you spend slowly reading 'va-n-the-ya-the-va-n' and asking "is it vantheyaDevan or Thevan, ma?"

I only began to read properly in Tamil because of the PS series

Archana said...

Krishnan - LOL - I think you might have hit on the perfect analogy :-D!

SK & Poorna - you guys are inspiring me to stick with my read PS in Tamil goal!

kutti said...

if ponniyin selvan in tamil is something u r interested in, this might help:

the whole thing is in mp3 and i think u can buy it and queue it up on ur ipod.... i hv heard a few chapters n its excellent... with voice modulations n evrything !

Archana said...

Kutti - thanks for the link! Right now, my aim is to read it myself in Tamil :-). Will keep this option in mind though!

Saumya said...

Archana - do you know where I can find the English version? I've heard so much about it, I really have to read it. I think reading in Tamil is way toooo ambitious for me. I should blog about my legendary skills in Tamil reading....someday. Ah. So many things to think about, so many things to write. So many things to accomplish and yet all that seems to be happening is time ticking away.

Archana said...

Saumya - the entire series is available in Landmark - pick them up when you visit the next time :-).