top of page

Kalki's Ponniyin Selvan and the Best way to consume it. The Books and the Movie compared.

Those unaware, this book is a retelling of Shri Kalki Krishnamurthy ji’s magnum opus, Ponniyin Selvan. Ponniyin Selvan is considered to be one of the best books, Tamil literature has ever produced. You can read more about the book and its significance by a simple google search.

I requested a copy of The Tiger Throne from the Publisher, way back in September. When it was originally released. And planned on writing a review for just this version. But then I wanted a question answered that what actually was the best option to know about the story of Arulmozhli Varman and others? Well, I decided to answer it by doing the research myself.

Let's compare our options first, shall we?

The obvious one is the original novels written by Shri Kalki Krishnamurthy, which was published in a serialised manner in the 1950’s. Well , if you can read and understand Tamil, why did you even click on this link? Go read. There is no other option for you. (Fun Fact, I was actually convinced to learn Tamil in 2019, just to read Ponniyin Selvan, after reading this. )

Well, if you can’t read Tamil, well tough luck, but no worries, there are SEVERAL Direct Translations of Ponniyin Selvan. Translations by Mr CV Karthik Narayanan , the translations I personally read during my research by Ms. Pavithra Srinivasan (Please note that only 4 Volumes are available of these translations , due to the untimely demise of Pavithra Ji) , the most commonly read English Translation of the Ponniyin sevan , by Mr Varoletti Rengaswamy (my friend Ashish actually reviewed this translation) . You can go with any of these translations if you want to read the books in as much detail as possible.

Now lets get to Mani Ratnam’s version of Ponniyin Selvan. Granted only the first of his two movies has been released, which cover about the three books of Kalki’s work. And I will admit , despite the god-awful music by Rehman, the movie is not half-bad. And if you are not the bookish type, I might actually recommend you go watch it. Mani Ratnam actually goes beyond Kalki’s vision and changes quite a lot of things. In both good and bad ways, I will not delve on these, as it will give away the plot. The best thing about the movie, is without a doubt Aishwarya Rai Bacchan as Nandini. If you already have read the books, you can watch the movie for recreational purposes. However, do not watch the movie if you can read a book, but just don’t want to invest to much time in the 5 volumes. The Tiger Throne solves just that problem for readers. Here’s my review of the book:

Author: Preetha Rajah Kannan. (Original serialised story written by Kalki Krishnamurthy Ji)

Publisher: Jaico Publishing House

Genre: Historical Fiction based on real events

No of Pages: 675

MRP: 799

The Tiger Throne is not a word-for-word translation of the original epic. This book is a more condensed version of the entire story, all 5 volumes of the book, in one 700 page book. Without loosing the essence of the original story.


Ponniyin Selvan, written by Indian author Kalki Krishnamurthy, is a historical fiction novel set in the 10th century Chola Dynasty of Tamil Nadu. The story follows the journey of a young prince named Arulmozhi varman, who is destined to become the next Chola king.

The story begins with the setting of the emperor Sundara Chozha being ill and bedridden. Aditha Karikalan is the chief of the Northern Command troops residing in Kanchi, Arulmozhi Varman in Sri Lanka for a battle, and their sister Kundavai Piratti lived in Chola royal household at Pazhayari and where the story leads with the introduction of Vallavarayan Vandiyathevan, a charming young warrior was supposed to be the prince of the Vana clan in the Chozha dynasty and friend of Aditha Karikalan who was the crowned Prince of Chozha kingdom as he is the elder son of Sundara Chozhan.

As the novel progresses, Arulmozhi varman must navigate the treacherous world of court politics, facing challenges from rival claimants to the throne and the machinations of powerful enemies. Along the way, he is aided by a cast of memorable characters, including the brave warrior Pazhuvertaraiyar, the wise astrologer Nandhini, and the beautiful dancer Madhavi.

One of the key themes in Ponniyin Selvan is the idea of destiny and the role it plays in shaping the lives of the characters. Throughout the novel, the characters are constantly struggling against the forces of fate, trying to assert their own agency and control their own destinies. This is particularly evident in the character of Arulmozhi varman, who is destined to become the next Chola king, but must first overcome a host of obstacles and challenges in order to fulfill his destiny.

Another important theme in the novel is the idea of loyalty and friendship. Throughout the story, Arulmozhi varman is supported by a network of loyal friends and allies, who stand by him through thick and thin. This is particularly evident in his relationship with Vanathi, who remains steadfastly loyal to him despite the many challenges they face.

Overall, Kalki's Ponniyin Selvan is a masterful work of historical fiction, capturing the intrigue and drama of the Chola Dynasty in vivid detail. Through its complex characters and engaging plot, the novel explores timeless themes of destiny, loyalty, and friendship, making it an enduring classic of Indian literature.


Well, the book definitely lacks the detail that the direct translations will offer you, if you like reading Geographic descriptions of locations, while they are present in the book, Pavithra Ji’s books just had so much more! But other than that, plot-wise, the book is pretty much the same and doesn’t lose on any of the details. Nd to be completely honest, as t I did not get a chance to read the Fifth Volume due to the untimely demise of the translator, I only read the one in The Tiger Throne and I did not, at any moment, felt like I was missing anything. The narrative was quite tight (a tad bit tighter than I would have liked, but that’s a minor issue.) I can recommend this book to anyone wanting to read the story but not wanting to invest the time required in reading all 5 volumes of the book.

Purchase link:


bottom of page