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‘Ponniyin Selvan 2’ Review: Aishwarya Rai & Vikram Are Simply Epic

'Ponniyin Selvan 2' hit theatres on 28 April.

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Mani Ratnam’s Ponniyin Selvan: Part 1 ended with more questions than answers; thus teasing the sequel. Chola prince Arulmozhi Varman (Jayam Ravi) and his lieutenant Vandiyathevan (Karthi) drowned following an attack from Pandya assassins. An older woman swam to them, seemingly to save their lives and was revealed to be a lookalike of the Pazhuvoor queen Nandini (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan).

'Ponniyin Selvan 2' hit theatres on 28 April.

Vikram in a still from Ponniyin Selvan 2.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

The sequel does not pick off from there and instead takes viewers back in time to when Nandini was a child. We follow the budding romance between a young Nandini (Sara Arjun) and Aditha Karikalan (Santosh Sreeram). Through circumstances beyond their control, they are separated and the former grows up seeking revenge.

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Her plot for vengeance forms much of the film’s plot and rightfully so because Nandini’s cunning and understanding of royalty and the State is fascinating to watch.

Rai in her dual role and Vikram (as Aditha) are phenomenal in Ponniyin Selvan: Part 2. Their scenes together are immensely well-crafted and equally well-performed. Aishwarya Rai’s return to the big screen is deserving of her craft and further cements her status as an icon. 

'Ponniyin Selvan 2' hit theatres on 28 April.

Aishwarya Rai in a still from Ponniyin Selvan 2.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube) 

But wait, there’s more to PS-2. The Chola kingdom is led by a menacing Sundara Cholan (Prakash Raj) but Nandini’s husband Periya Pazhuvettayar (R Sarathkumar) is leading a coup against him and wants Sundara’s cousin Madhurantaka (Rahman) to take the throne.

Trisha as Kundavai has less to do in this film than she did in the prequel but for her part, she performs. Her ability to convey a lot without having heavy dialogues is still a delight. With so many parallel storylines and a rather languorous pacing in places, it’s easy to lose track of the story.

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Writers Ratnam, Jeyamohan and Kumaravel, however manage to keep bringing the audience’s focus back to the plot point that matters at the moment.

The scale of PS-2 is extravagant and opulent but never flashy. Due credit to production designer Thota Tharrani and cinematographer Ravi Varman’s eye for detail and understanding of the director’s vision. A particular scene featuring Aishwarya Rai in the film’s second half is hauntingly beautiful.

'Ponniyin Selvan 2' hit theatres on 28 April.

A still from Ponniyin Selvan 2.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube) 

It's also one of the scenes that helps you realise that the second installment of Ponniyin Selvan has much richer humanity than its predecessor. Not only does the film delve into human greed, ambition, and the consequences of impulse and tactical disadvantage, it also shows us what happens when all fails.

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When humans make plans but must inevitably lay down their arms in the face of the grand scheme of things, the result is powerful, poignant imagery.

'Ponniyin Selvan 2' hit theatres on 28 April.

A still from Ponniyin Selvan 2.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube) 

PS-2's flaw is in its runtime which is a dash too long and the pacing of the first half is too slow which is especially evident when the second half picks up pace. 

Mani Ratnam's idea of removing the need for flash from the idea of an 'epic' is a success, two times over. 

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Topics:  Mani Ratnam   Vikram   Aishwarya Rai 

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