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Mani Ratnam signed Vijay and Mahesh Babu for 'Ponniyin Selvan' initially

Vijay and Mahesh Babu
Mani Ratnam, the National Award-winning director is currently working on his dream project, historical drama 'Ponniyin Selvan'. Due to the coronavirus lockdown the shooting of the film is on hold.

'Ponniyin Selvan' is not only a dream project for Maniratnam. Many has expressed their interest before in Kollywood, inclusding former Chief Minister and film star ‘Makkal Thilagam’ MGR. But it was put in a cold storage because of his sudden entry into politics and financial constraints. Later, MGR wanted to produce the film and choose ace filmmaker Bharathiraja to make the film with Kamal Haasan and Sridevi, but that didn't materialize.

Now, Mani Ratnam is directing with ensemble cast that includes Vikram, Karthi, Jayam Ravi, Vikram Prabhu, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Trisha, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Sobhita Dhulipala, and Aditi Rao Hydari amongst others. But how many of you know Ilayathapathy Vijay and Telugu superstar Mahesh Babu were the initial choice to play lead in the film?

In 2016, Mani Ratnam signed both Thalapathy Vijay and Mahesh Babu for 'Ponniyin Selvan' and was about to start filming before it was shelved. The film was also said to have had Vikram, Karthi, Arya, Prabhu and Karthick on board as well.

Suhasini Maniratnam in her recent interview to a weekly, confirmed that Vijay and Mahesh Babu did sign on to play the lead in 'Ponniyin Selvan'. She explained that the VFX and graphics technology were not as advanced then as it is now, so the film was dropped. “Since the graphics field was not as advanced as it is now, he dropped the idea. Initially, he wanted to make the film with Kamal Haasan,” said Suhasini.

Mahesh Babu also once recalled how his film with Vijay and Maniratnam dropped seven days before the starting of the shoot. "Before seven days of the principal shoot, there was a photo shoot session with Vijay in Chennai but unfortunately, the project got shelved. Even now I share a close rapport with Vijay, he is a good friend ", said Mahesh Babu.

Siva Ananth, who co-wrote Maniratnam’s Chekka Chivantha Vaanam, said, “Mani sir approached Vijay to play Vallavarayan Vanthiyathevan and Mahesh Babu for Arulmozhi Varman’s (Chola King) role. Both the actors loved the idea but due to budget and other constraints, we dropped the film. Mani sir has a great respect to both these actors and they also love to do a film with him

Mani started the works for 'Ponniyin Selvan' in 2010, Dhana, who works as an assistant for Mani Ratnam said in his recent interview that Mani Ratnam and Jeyamohan had started the works for 'Ponniyin Selvan' in 2010.

When Mani started the pre-production of 'Ponniyin Selvan' in 2016, ambitious attempts of other directors epic historical films, including Ayirathil Oruvan and Irandaam Ulagam, tanked at the box office. That was said to be a big set-back for Maniratnam. But now, the trend has become for epic historical films with movies like Baahubali franchise, and advanced technology in VFX. Many had felt that the film was shelved because the producer felt that recovering the investment with Vijay and Mahesh's market was impossible.

Thalapathy Vijay and Superstar Mahesh Babu are two of the most charismatic leading men of the south indian flim industry, fans of one invariably is a fan of the other in both Tamil Nadu and Telugu speaking states. It is the dream of movie lovers to see the two dashing heroes on screen together but it will come as a surprise that there was a project that almost came through which unfortunately did not take off. If only Vijay and Mahesh Babu were in it now this would have been the biggest multistarrer ever in the history of Indian cinema.

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