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Ponniyin Selvan 2 review: Bigger and better than its predecessor

The interestingly-packed first half rides majorly on this part with some sneak-peek to what will happen in the second

Ponniyin Selvan 2 review: Bigger and better than its predecessor
Ponniyin Selvan 2 poster

Cast: Vikram, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Jayam Ravi, Trisha Krishnan, Karthi, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Sobitha Dhulipala, Jayaram, Sarathkumar, Parthiban, Prabhu, Vikram Prabhu, Ashwin Kakumanu, Jayachitra, Rahman, Kishore, Riyaz Khan, Arjun Chidambaram, Mohan Raman and Nasser

Director: Mani Ratnam

Music director: AR Rahman

Synopsis: As the pole star shines in the sky, Arunmozhi Varman is saved by a deaf-mute queen in the Lankan seas. What is her connection with Ponniyin Selvan and will Pandiyas suceed in taking revenge for Veerapandiyan’s death?

Ponniyin Selvan 2 made its way to the big screens after the first instalment of the franchise that released on September 30 raked in over Rs 500 crore and became a profitable venture at the box-office. The expectations for the second part soared sky high as the majority of the story was set to unfold.

The second part begins with Kamal Haasan’s voiceover, who summarises the first part. The plot begins with the flashback portions of Aditha Karikalan (Vikram) and Nandini (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan)’s budding romance and how they are separated by vested interests in the Chola empire.

So, as the part one ended in a cliffhanger where people in the kingdom hear about Arunmozhi Varman (Jayam Ravi) drowning to death, the narrative travels back to Mandakini (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in dual role) saving Arunmozhi Varman, who comes back to India with Vandhiyathevan (Karthi) being the mastermind in foiling Pandiya rebels' attempts in assassinating the Chola prince. The interestingly-packed first half rides majorly on this part with some sneak-peek to what will happen in the second.

Editor Sreekar Prasad has smartly packed the first half with a lot more story and suspense to follow without deviating from the core. The best thing we get to see in the first half is when Aditha Karikalan, Kundavai (Trisha) and Arunmozhi Varman are seen on the screen together for the first time and it is an emotional touchpoint. Vanthiyathevan and Kundavai’s romance shows why Mani Ratnam is the master of romantic films. But he has reserved the best for the second half of the film.

Performances of the cast as usual are top notch thus far. While the making and visuals impress us right from the first frame, the film is enhanced greatly with AR Rahman’s music. Those who felt that songs in PS 2 were underwhelming, watch it on screen with the scenes and you will know why AR Rahman is the best in the business. Devaralan Aatam’s new version towards the interval is sure to give you goosebumps along with the visuals from the celebration scenes of Arunmozhi’s arrival to Thanjavur.

The second part is where Mani Ratnam has narrated it beautifully and we see the magic and the calculations that he has taken to convey a five-volume story in just five hours. The last one and half hours of this 164-minute film, rather a 2500-page novel, is where there is so much emotion and drama to it. If you think Vandhiyathevan-Kundavai is one of the epic on screen romances, Aditya Karikalan and Nandini’s failed romance is even better and this is where Vikram and Aishwarya Rai steal the entire show with their brilliant chemistry. If there is a romantic scene that would keep you on the edge-of-the seats, it has to be this.

Another delight of PS2 is that characters that were underplayed in part 1 get prominent screen time in the second part. Vikram Prabhu as Parthibendra Pallavan not only is seen in crucial scenes but also justifies his inclusion in the cast with varied shades. A few characters switch gears and the story gets more interesting. While you fall in love with Vandhiyathevan-Kundavai and Karikalan-Nandini, there are other lovely couples, who really make you fall in love with the entire setup—AR Rahman-Ravi Varman and Thota Tharani-Sreekar Prasad. The way each team has elevated one another’s work is the beauty of Ponniyin Selvan 2.

Of course, there are a few flaws and fans of the novel may not like the deviations. However, in the climax, Mani Ratnam has given the story his own touch which may or may not be appealing to the audience. He creates an open space for a debate there. All said and done, Ponniyin Selvan 2 is all set to rule the roost at the box-office until schools open for kids.

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Kaushik Rajaraman
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