| Historical, Drama | 28-04-2023
Cast - Vikram, Aishwarya Rai, Karthi, Jayam Ravi, Trisha, Sobhita D, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Prabhu, Jayaram, Vikram Prabhu, Prakash Raj & others
Director - Mani Ratnam
Producer - Mani Ratnam and Subaskaran
Banner - Lyca Productions, Madras Talkies
Music - AR Rahman
Kalki Krishnamurthy’s five-part novel series Ponniyin Selvan is adapted into film with the same name by maverick filmmaker Mani Ratnam and made into two parts. The film has a stellar cast – Vikram, Aishwarya Rai, Jayam Ravi, Karthi, Trisha, Jayaram, Sarath Kumar, Vikram Prabhu. While the first part drew mixed reception in Telugu, let’s delve into the second part and find out.
Madhurantaka Chola (Rahman) wants to take over the reigns of Chola dynasty against his parents will. Pedda Paluvettaraiya along with Samanta kings conspire against Aditya Karikala (Vikram) to dethrone him and grab the Chola dynasty. Aditya is in shock of Arun Moli aka Ponniyin Selvan’s feared death in sea tragedy. Huge relief comes with the safe return of Arun Moli. Spy Vallavaraya (Karthi) plays a crucial role in this. But Aditya vows to take revenge against the people behind the conspiracy against Arun Moli.
Pandyas with the help of Paluvur Queen Nandini (Aishwarya Rai) hatch a plan to eliminate Chola Kings – Sundar Chola (Prakash Raj), Aditya Karikala (Vikram) and Arun Moli aka Ponniyin Selvan (Jayam Ravi). Nandini being Aditya’s former lover, he could not say no when she invited him to Kadambur. Despite knowing that Nandini conspired against his murder, Aditya Karikala goes to Kadambur where he dies. The story is all about how Arun Moli and Vallavaraya (Karthi) wipe out the enemies and retain the Chola dynasty.
Ponniyin Selvan 2 has an ensemble cast and their brilliant performances. Of all, Vikram and Karthi deliver knockout performances as Aditya Karikala and Vallavaraya. While Vikram shows myriad emotions involving anger, love and sadness, Karthi’s role too goes through various ups and downs. His character has a funny side but there is a depth and motive behind his words, actions. From loyalist to the King to becoming suspect in King’s murder, his character journey is nice. Jayam Ravi is decent in titular role Ponniyin Selvan. The story revolves around his character.
Aishwarya Rai lives up to her charm and high expectations of her. Her character Nandini has negative shades and she pulls it off well. She is seen in a dual role. Aishwarya also plays aged woman and speech-impaired Mandakini, mother of Nandini. She does justice to both the roles. Sobhitha Dhulipala is alright as princess Vanathi who is the love interest of Prince Arun Moli. However, she has very little scope to perform. Aishwarya Lekshmi as Poongulali also has brief portion, but she delivers what is expected of her.
Vikram Prabhu turns Parthi Sarathkumar as Pedda Paluvettaraiya got an important role and he does a decent job. Parthiban as Chinna Paluvettaraiya gets sidelined in this vast story. Prakash Raj as patriarch Sundara Chola sticks to his usual style but makes the impact. Jayaram as spy Nambi shines in his portions and different get-ups. Rahman as Madhurantaka is okay and Ashwin Kakumanu as Senthan gets only a couple of scenes with his love interest Poongulali (Aishwarya Lekshmi). Overall, Ponniyin Selvan 2 has talented actors who gave praise-worthy performances.
Critically-acclaimed filmmaker Mani Ratnam makes this epic into a rich and grandeur tale on screen with high technical values. Cinematographer Ravi Varman brings life with impressive visuals and picturesque locales. AR Rahman’s background score heightens the impact of the visuals. VFX work is impressive. Editor Srikar Prasad shows his editing skills.
Emotion & Well-Hold Drama
Performances, Visuals & BGM
Lack Of High Moments
More Drama, Less Action
Ponniyin Selvan is an epic whose story is well-known in the public domain and came out as a five-part novel. When it is being adapted on to the big screen, it naturally has its advantages and mammoth challenges for director Mani Ratnam. The whole story of Ponniyin Selvan happens between 3 forts – Thanjavur fort, Kadambur fort and Palayarai fort. But to understand and enjoy Mani Ratnam’s PS 2 on the big screen, one must be aware of the story and its characters prior. For those who already know or read the Ponniyin Selvan novel, the film narration is like a cakewalk. For the unknown, it is indeed challenging.
The film begins with the childhood episodes of Aditya Karikala and Nandini which acts as base for the Ponniyin Selvan 2. The love story of Aditya and Nandini is crucial which is unraveled in the latter half of the film. Who is Nandini and what is her real identity and who is her father have a great interconnection to the proceedings. Why Nandini is owned by Pandyas and why she wants to take revenge against Cholas is depicted well.
The characters, drama unfolding, underlying emotions are herculean tasks to deal with. This is where an experienced filmmaker like Mani tried to keep it as simple as possible with his story-telling. Instead of focusing more on action, he rather played it on emotion and drama. The era of Cholas is well created. He made audiences transport into the Chola dynasty. This is the major victory of the director.
The pre-interval episode and climax sequences are well-made. The scenes between Vikram and Aishwarya Rai are the soul for the film. There is a scene where Vikram addresses Pedda Paluvettaraiya and his Queen Nandini. The expressions of Aishwarya deserve special mention. Vikram, Aishwarya Rai shine and Karthi walks away with laurels in this whole epic. Dialogues penned by Tanikella Bharani are good. Karthi’s funny one-liners bring cheers even in a serious situation.
What bothers Ponniyin Selvan is its slow narration. The film is lengthy but it has honesty. The soul of the film is intact. Definitely, Mani Ratnam took some cinematic liberties in order to narrate such a large tale within the film’s run-time. It also suffers with predictability at portions since the story is well-known. But Mani Ratnam managed to maintain the curiosity throughout on how it happened. This is where the filmmaker and his team scored. He has got strong support from technicians. Ravi Varman’s camera work and AR Rahman’s background score are the two pillars of PS 2.
Ponniyin Selvan 2 is a one-time watch. It is recommended for those who love kings, dynasties, history and drama. The first part may not appealed to many, but the second part has got better and ends on decent note.
Verdict: Better Than Ponniyin Selvan Part 1