Mani Ratnam's most ambitious Ponniyin Selvan is the hottest talk of the town. All eyes are set on the period drama. Made with a whopping budget of Rs 500 crores, the expectations for the film are sky-high. Ponniyin Selvan is a two-part historical fiction based on writer Kalki Krishnamurthy's 1955 novel of the same name.

The original book was a five-part series. It has a huge star cast that includes Vikram, Jayam Ravi, Karthi, Trisha, Jayaram, Sobhita Dhulipala, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Vikram Prabhu, Ashwin Kakumanu, R. Sarathkumar, R. Parthiban, Prabhu, Prakash Raj and Rahman. AR Rahman is the music director. The film is all set to hit the screens on September 30.

Ponniyin Selvan: I
Ponniyin Selvan: I.PR Handout

With too many historical names and characters appearing in the film, here is a complete guide to understanding the nuisance of each character.

Sundara Chola (Prakash Raj), the emperor of the Chola empire, has three children—Aditya Karikalan, Kundavai and Arulmozhivarman. The king is bedridden and rumours of a conspiracy by Pandyas to shift power spread. However, the king is literally under the control of the Pazhuvettaraiyar brothers (Sarath Kumar and Parthiban).

Aditya Karikalan (Vikram) is the general of the Northern Command and lives in Kanchi. He is fierce, his exemplary battle skills and hasty temper have created many conspirators in the kingdom.

Vikram in Ponniyin Selvan
Vikram in Ponniyin Selvan

The witty and intelligent Chola princess Kundavi (played by Trisha) senses the danger. She sends Aditya's most trustable commander Vandiyathevan (played by Karthi) to get Arulmozhi Varman (Jayam Ravi) from Lanka. Arulmozhi is people's favourite and is later called Raja Raja Cholan.

Among the most feared is Pazhuvoor princess Nandhini (Aishwarya Rai), who seduces and marries the much-older Periya Pazhuvettaraiyar (treasurer of the Cholas played by Sarathkumar) to destroy the Kingdom.

The story is about Vandiyathevan's journey and all the characters are introduced from his perspective. Other important characters include Poonkuzhali (Aishwarya Lekshmi), a strong boat woman who can handle the waves with ease. For her beauty and strength, she is also known as Samuthirakumari.

Karthi in Ponniyin Selvan
Karthi in Ponniyin Selvan

Then there is Periya Vellar Boothi Vikramakesari (Prabhu), the Irunkovel chieftain and the Commander of the southern troops; his niece Vanathi (Shobitha Dhulipala), a shy Kodumbalur prince is the love interest of Arulmozhi.

Azhwarkadiyan Nambi alias Thirumalaiappan (Jayaram), is a Vaishnavite spy who works for the Prime Minister and Sembiyan Mahadevi. He helps Vandiyathevan to accomplish his mission.

Aishwarya Rai from Ponniyin Selvan
Ponniyin Selvan

Interestingly, Sundara Chola's father Arinjaya was not the crown prince. His elder brother Kandradithan was the legal heir. However since Kandradithan and his wife Sembiyan Magadevi did not have children for a long time, the crown was passed to his brother. Madurantakan (Rahman) was born to the couple later but his father Kandradithan gets killed in a battle when he was just two years. Now Madurantakan aims for the throne and he has strong backing from the Pazhuvettaraiyars.

Trisha From Ponniyin Selvan
Ponniyin Selvan

On the other side, the Pandyas are thirsting for revenge too. Aditha Karikalan has beheaded their king Veerapandian (Nassar) and they are looking at the right moment to attack. Veerapandian was also close to Nandini so she joins hands with the Pandyas to take down the Cholas.