6 Strong Women Characters Of Ponniyin Selvan You Must Know!

Ponniyin Selvan is the story of the Chola kings, but nothing can really happen without the very strong women who made a huge difference.

Ponniyin Selvan is a historical fiction written by Kalki Krishnamurthy. I didn’t realize why it was a craze back then until I read the novel myself and the audiobooks which I also listen to.

With 5 volumes, Ponniyin Selvan is an unputdownable read with twists and turns in every chapter. The story is set around the 10th-century Chola dynasty of South India. The novel has strong female characters who have unique characteristics. Here are some you can watch for in the movie as well!


Nandini is the female protagonist of Ponniyin Selvan, played by Aishwarya Rai in the movie. She is a strong character in the story and is a stunning, brilliant woman. She is the wife of Periya Pazhuvettariyar and is referred to as ‘Ilaya Rani’ in the story. She is well recognised for her humour and charm.

Nandini is a complicated person and is portrayed as a woman with vile intentions and layers, which is a mystery. She plays a significant role in influencing the events in the story. The conversation between Nandini and Vanthiyathevan was an interesting read/ watch in Ponniyin Selvan.


Kundavai, played by Trisha, is Arulmozhi Varman’s (Jayam Ravi) sister. Arulmozhi is the protagonist of PS. Kundavai is the daughter of Sundara Chola. Kundavai is referred to as ‘Ilayapiratti’ in PS. She is a majestic, wise and popular woman across other kingdoms as well. Kundavai plays an important role in protecting the family and plays a mentor to Arulmozhi Varman.

Kundavai, despite being a woman of that age, had free will, and was not married off to princes of other kingdoms! She chose not to do so. Kundavai did not want to get married to any foreign king as she wanted to be in the Chola kingdom. She is quite active in politics and frequently seen giving advice to her brother.


Poonkuzhali is a fearless fisherwoman in Ponniyan Selvan, played by Aishwarya Lekshmi. She saves Arulmozhi Varman when he is attacked by Pandyas in Sri Lanka. She also aids Arulmozhi Varman in his search.

The relationship between Arulmozhi and Poonkuzhali is complicated, as it can confusing to viewers if it is love or friendship. Poonkuzhali loves Arulmozhi but knows very well that she cannot marry him due to his social status. As compared to other women characters who are princesses or privileged, Poonkuzhali is an independent, ordinary woman and attractive as well. She lives the way she wants, is sweet and can also kill.

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Vanathi is Arulmozhi Varman’s wife, shown as Arulmozhi Varman’s love interest in PS 1 movie, played by Sobhita Dhulipala.

Vanathi loses her parents at a young age, her mom dies during childbirth, and her father dies in a war in Eelam (Sri Lanka). So, she lives with Kundavai in the palace, who is also a close friend of hers. Vanathi is a woman with a soft heart but is quick-witted and charming. Later she marries Arulmozhi, and is a sweet, compassionate woman who encourages her husband in all that he does.


Manimekalai is the princess of Kadambur and sister of Kandan Maran (son of Sambuvaraiyar). Kandhan Maran is a close friend of Vanthiyathevan.

A little story here – Being a close friend of Kandan Maran, Vanthiyathevan gets to enter the Kadambur Palace where in turn he gets a chance to eavesdrop on the conspiracy of Periya Pazhuvetaraiyar and other kings to crown Madhuranthaga Chola as the king.

Manimekalai is not introduced in the movie yet. Manimekalai loves Vanthiyathevan deeply but Vanthiyathevan doesn’t reciprocate it. Eventually, she gets betrothed to Adithya Karikalan. She helps Nandini without her knowledge of being a conspirator.

Oomai Rani

Oomai Rani plays the guardian angel of Arulmozhi Varman. She is a mute person who travels on an elephant played by an older version of Aishwarya Rai. She saves Arulmozhi Varman back when he falls into the Ponni River as a baby. That’s why he is called Ponniyin Selvan (Ponni’s child). Whenever Arulmozhi is in danger, Oomai Rani makes an appearance to save Arulmozhi. When he was attacked by Pandyas along with Vanthiyathevan and Alwarkadiyan and also when fighting the Pandyas on the ship with Vanthiyathevan.

Oomai Rani aka Mandakini, was a concubine of Sundara Chola in Sri Lanka. But Sundara leaves her with promises to return but never does so. Sundara confides this to Kundavai.

But why does Oomai Rani save Arulmozhi Varman? Why does she resemble Nandini? Why is Arulmozhi the ‘King’ or the protagonist when the crown prince is Adithya Karikalan? I’m stopping here as I don’t want to reveal anything more!

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Savitha Sampath

A passionate mom, Writer @Women's Web, Digital Marketing Consultant, an avid learner, and a foodie read more...

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