PS-2: A More Focused Film Than Part 1

In spite of the flaws director Mani Ratnam deserves credit for bringing alive a relatively unknown part of history

PS 2(Tamil)                 3 out of 5

Starcast: Vikram, Jayam Ravi, Karthi, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Jayaram, Rehman, Trisha and others

Direction and screenplay: Mani Ratnam

Additional screenplay: B. Jeyamohan and Elango Kumaravel

Story: Kalki Krishnamurthy

Based on: Ponniyin Selvan by Kalki Krishnamurthy

Producers: Mani Ratnam and Subaskaran Allirajah

Production companies: Madras Talkies and Lyca productions

Genre: Historical drama

Running time: 2 hours and 45 minutes

Kalki Krishnamurthy’s novel on the Chola dynasty is considered to be a significant part of Tamil literature. The novel Ponniyin Selvan was also serialized in the weekly editions of a Tamil magazine. PS-1 (Ponniyin Selvan) was Mani Ratnam’s dream project which finally came alive in 2022. Not surprisingly PS-1 worked more in the Tamil belt given the nativity factor. The film had a mixed response in other languages particularly the Hindi market.

It did decently well in Telugu also but in Hindi the film didn’t attract many eyeballs. A big shortcoming of PS-1 was its convoluted screenplay coupled with the addition of too many subplots. There were also some editing lags.

Hence the anticipation around PS-2 was not the same as SS Rajamouli’s Bahubaali 2. However a Mani Ratnam directorial always garners attention even though the director has not been in his best form of late.

The second part begins at the exact point where the first part ended. The Cholas led by Arunmozhi Varman aka Ponniyin Selvan (Jayam Ravi), brother of Chola king Aditya Karikaludu and Vallavaraiyan Vandhiyadevudu (Karthi) are fighting with Pandyas in the sea. While fighting they fall into the waters. Fortunately they are saved by a mute woman Mandakini (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in a double role). Later Arunmozhi gets treated by the Buddha monks in Sri Lanka. At the same time a conspiracy is taking place. Nandini (again Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) along with the Pandyas is planning to eradicate the Chola dynasty. There are also some Chola chieftains who want to make Madhuranthakudu (Rehman) the Chola king by dethroning Aditya Karikaludu (Vikram).

The rest of the film deals with how the power struggle maps out. And also who is Mandakini and what is her connection with Nandini? Do Arunmozhi and Vallavaraiyan Vandhiyadevudu return to the Chola kingdom? And lastly, who gains the upper hand- Cholas or Pandyas?

First and foremost – the screenplay of PS-2 is a definite improvement over the first part. Mani Ratnam does a good job in connecting all the loose ends and coming up with satisfactory answers.

Some of the twists and turns do catch the viewers unaware. A particular mention must be made of the Nandini’s back story.

The dramatic scenes in PS-2 have also been far better written. A good example of that is the love hate relation between Aditya Karikaludu and Nandini. Vikram and Aishwarya don’t have many scenes together but the intensity is very much palpable in the brief encounters that they have. There is an important sequence late in the second half featuring the two. This scene does pierce the audience’s heart thanks to the direction and also the performances of Vikram and Aishwarya. Vikram in particular is brilliant with certain unhingedness.

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