ATN Signs “The Legend of Ponnivala” for Canadian Broadcast

– Animated epic series to air spring 2013 –

GORE’S LANDING, ON (March, 2013) – The Sophia Hilton Foundation of Canada and Soft Science Associates, Ltd., creators of the animated “Legend of Ponnivala” series, have signed on with the Asian Television Network for Canadian broadcast of the 26-episode series. The series is slated to launch in English on ATN in late April, with a Tamil-language broadcast planned for the summer.


“The Legend of Ponnivala” tells the story of the epic South Indian heroes Ponnar and Shankar. It also relates the origins of their family, back to the founding of the region two generations earlier. It is a surprisingly expansive tale for a local legend, and includes a wealth of historical and social insights into medieval Indian culture. It draws inspiration and characters from the great Indian epic, the Mahabharata, while keeping its focus on farming, the lifestyle central to its place of origin.



Ponnivala at the Thai Pongal Celebration Dinner

[[posterous-content:pid___0]]Pictured: (right to left) Art Director Ravichandran Arumugam, Dr. Brenda Beck, Technical Director Eric Harris, and CTC Board Member Kumar Ratnam.

On Saturday, January 19, members of the Ponnivala team were honoured to accept Mr. Danton Thurairajah’s invitation to be guests at the Candadian Tamil Congress’ Thai Pongal Dinner in Markham, Ontario. 

Attended by some nine hundred people, the event was a wonderful evening of entertainment and food. The emcee for the evening was Crossroads host Manjula Selvarajah, with whom Dr. Beck had a televised interview just a week ago on TVI.

In addition to being a celebration and awards ceremony, the Thai Pongal Celebration Dinner also served as the backdrop for an important book launch: Mr. Appadurai Mutulingam’s translation into Tamil of Frances Harrison’s Still Counting the Dead, an account of the horrific climax of the bloody conflict between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government. Mr. Mutulingam is a found of the Tamil Literary Garden, and has assisted The Legend of Ponnivala project by translating the story synopses for the back covers of our two-volume complete editions in Tamil (to be released soon).

The two-volume set is already available in English from Amazon and CreateSpace.


Brenda Beck Talks Ponnivala with TVI

This past Sunday, Dr. Brenda Beck made an appearance on TVI’s “Crossroads” with host Manjula Selvaraja. The topic was teaching and learning the Tamil language abroad, especially in Canada. Joining them were two students from the University of Toronto.

In other news, Series One of The Legend of Ponnivala is now available in Tamil from the Ponnivala Marketplace! This is the long-awaited print edition of the Tamil comics from Amazon and CreateSpace.

Brenda Beck Meets with Appadurai Muttulingam

Earlier this week, Legend of Ponnivala creator and director Dr. Brenda Beck met with renowned author and literary magnate Mr. Appadurai Muttulingam at his home in Toronto. Mr. Muttulingam is a leader in the Tamil literary community internationally, having won several prestigious awards for his work. He is also a founding member of Toronto’s Tamil Literary Garden.

Brenda and Appadurai MuttulingamIn the photo: Left, Dr. Beck. Right, distinguished Tamil author and founder of the Tamil Literary Garden, Mr. Appadurai Muttulingam.

1. The complete transcripts from Dr. Beck’s 1965 audio recording of the Annanmar Kathai.

2. The second version of the legend, which was dictated by the narrator and used for comparison with the original sung version.

3. Volumes One and Two of the complete Legend of Ponnivala graphic novel series.

4. Teaching materials and classroom guides for presenting The Legend of Ponnivala as an educational resource.

Brenda and Appadurai Muttulingam2

In the photo: Mr. Appadurai Muttulingam enjoys an interactive episode of The Legend of Ponnivala on the iPad.

Happy Diwali!


Ponnivala and the Social Services Network


Dr. Brenda Beck attended the Social Services Network 2nd Annual Fundraising Gala, “Red Carpet Showcase,” on Saturday night. Also in attendance at the Sheraton Hotel event were dignitaries from across the South Asian community, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, and of course Dr. Beck’s host SSN board member Aruna Dorai.

Social Services Network provides a wide array of services to the diverse South Asian community, ranging from home and community integration to mental health awareness to family programs, including literacy, elder abuse networks, youth programs, and even transportation assistance for newcomers to the York region.

We’re pleased that we’ve been asked to partner with the Social Services Network, and are looking forward to working closely with them on initiatives in the future.

Special thanks to Aruna Dorai for the invitation, and to the whole organization for a wonderful dinner and evening of entertainment.

More information on the Social Services Network’s programs, visit their website at

“Death and the Queen” well-received at MOSAIC

On Saturday, August 18th, “The Legend of Ponnivala: Death and the Queen” premiered at the MOSAIC International South Asian Film Festival of Mississauga. 

Appearing by invitation from festival organizer Dinesh Sachdev, this was the first major festival premiere for a Ponnivala movie. Several of the cast and crew were on hand for the premiere, including series Writer / Director Dr. Brenda Beck, who took the time for a little Q&A after the show.

With just over a hundred people in the audience, “Death and the Queen” was one of the best-attended and most highly-anticipated presentations of the festival. The audience reception was very positive, and we’re looking forward to bringing “Death and the Queen” to more festivals and theatres around the world.

Death and the Queen interviews on Tamil media in Toronto

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Legend of Ponnivala: Death and the Queen — now an official entry at MOSAIC International South Asian Film Festival of Mississauga 2012

(updated links and trailer: Aug. 10, 2012)

Toronto—July 26, 2012

The Sophia Hilton Foundation of Canada and Soft Science Associates are thrilled to announce the premiere of their new animated feature, Death and the Queen, at the Mosaic South Asian Heritage Festival, Saturday, August 18, 2012, 2:30PM at the Noel Ryan Theatre in Mississauga.

Download full colour (PDF) posters:

Small (5.04 x 8.92 inches): Click here (12 MB)

Medium (10.10 x 17.85 inches): Click Here (34 MB)

Large (20.19 x 35.69 inches): Click Here (101 MB)

Letter Size (8.5 x 11 inches): Click Here (2.5 MB)

Legal Size (8.5 x 14 inches): Click Here (14 MB)

Top and bottom letterbox borders (black area only) may be cropped for publishing.

Death and the Queen is an animated tale excerpted from the much larger Legend of Ponnivala epic, which is based on an ancient South-Indian legend known as the Annanmar Kathai or “Elder Brothers’ Story.” It tells the tale of a local queen named Tamarai who must travel to the gates of Heaven to plead with the Hindu god Shiva. She wants him to lift a family curse of barrenness. With the burden lifted, her sons—the folk heroes Ponnar and Shankar—are born. In an effort to glorify their family and heir kingdom (Ponnivalanadu), these twin kings face combat with ferocious beasts and fierce warriors, until fate reclaims them and returns their spirits to Lord Shiva at just sixteen years of age.

The Legend of Ponnivala is a vast epic legend from the Kongu region of Tamil Nadu in South India. Little known outside of its home region, the story was brought to the world when Brenda Beck; then a doctoral candidate in Anthropology at Oxford; left to study Tamil society in India in 1964. There, she was presented with a live performance of the popular local legend, which is still sung by bards in the ancient oral tradition. An epic adventure about the earliest farming origins in Kongu Nadu, the story took an astonishing eighteen evenings to perform, and used some 44 hours of reel-to-reel audio tape to record.

While highly localized and surprisingly unique, the epic has a deep connection with the greatest of all Indian epics, the Mahabharata (including reincarnations of some of its key heroic characters). It provides fascinating insights into Indian Tamil culture as well as Hindu folk mythology in general.

In 2006, preliminary work began on adapting this great epic to create an animated series titled The Legend of Ponnivala. The result of that adaptation is an unparalleled animated series (now in post-production) comprising twenty six half-hour episodes. The style of the animation, created under the artistic direction of Indian-Canadian artist Ravichandran Arumugam and technical direction of Eric Harris, has been painstakingly crafted to reflect a traditional Indian folk art style, while the 2D animation is modelled on South Asian shadow puppetry.

This production has also spawned a complete comic book series in English and Tamil, as well as several children’s stories, short films, classroom teaching materials, and soon a downloadable computer version of Parcheesi, an Indian strategy game that features prominently in the story.

Death and the Queen was written and directed by Brenda Beck. The original 1965 audio recordings have been used as part of the film’s soundtrack scored by Steafan Hannigan. The score also features Subhadra Vijaykumar on Carnatic violin. The film features the voice and narration talents of Lata Pada, Sumit Bhatia, Afroz Khan, Ishwar, Sanjay Talreja, and Priyadarshini Govindarajan.


For more information, visit:

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Available for interviews:

Brenda Beck

For media enquiries, please contact:

The Sophia Hilton Foundation of Canada

Brenda Beck


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Brenda Beck at the Senior Tamils Centre of Ontario

The Legend of Ponnivala (in Tamil) gets a thumbs up from venerable seniors’ group


Brenda Beck spoke in Tamil this morning to about 35 seniors from the Senior Tamils Centre of Ontario at the invitation of its President, Maya Kandiah. The event lasted nearly 90 minutes and took place in the community hall attached to the Sri Ayyappan Temple in Scarborough. The response from the members was very enthusiastic and a lot of good questions were asked. 

Brenda showed the first episode of her 26 episode animated video series: “In The Beginning.” This first part of the giant epic Ponnivala legend explains how the farmers of the Ponnivala area came to be, how they established families, how they came to worship a local goddess, and how they learned to till the rich soil of the area. This initial segment of the story also provides a mythological explanation describing how the social dynamics and rules governing local village life first became codified. 

This morning was the very first time that this episode has been shown publicly with its Tamil voice track. The voicing of this entire epic in Tamil is only now being produced in a recording studio in Chennai. Dr. Beck also circulated copies of her 26 graphic novels in Tamil to the many eager readers in the crowd, along with a digital version on an iPad which several seniors enjoyed flipping through. The crowd was charmed by Brenda’s efforts to tell her story in Tamil and expressed their approval of her long term commitment to communicate to the world some of the richness and depth of Tamil culture.

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