Mani Ratnam’s Ponniyin Selvan Part 2 is undoubtedly one of the most highly anticipated Tamil movies of recent times. As a sequel to the first part, this film continues the epic saga based on Kalki Krishnamurthy’s historical novel. Image source: IMDB
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Ponniyin Selvan is a complex story with many characters involved, each involved in subplots and agenda in the overall plot. It will take time to go through each of the characters, their motivation and intent and perhaps it is best to go through the 2 part movie before going into details of the actual novel. Image source: Lyca Productions/Youtube
Ponniyin Selvan Part 2 picks up where Part 1 left off, delving deeper into the complex web of political intrigue, power struggles, and personal vendettas. The story revolves around the Chola dynasty and its ambitious emperor, Sundara Chola, played by Vikram. The film showcases the rise of Aditya Karikalan, portrayed by Karthi, as he battles against his own demons and strives to protect his kingdom.
The movie picks up from where the first part left off, with Arulmozhi Varman and Vandiyathevan presumed dead after their ship was attacked by pirates. The news of their death reaches Thanjavur, where the king and his family are devastated. Meanwhile, Nandini and her husband Periya Pazhuvettarayar (Prakash Raj), who are secretly plotting against the Cholas with the help of the Pandiya rebels, invite Aditha Karikalan to their palace in Kadambur for a peace talk.
Aditha Karikalan agrees to go, but he is suspicious of their intentions. He also learns that Nandini is his long-lost love, whom he had to leave behind due to his sister’s opposition. He is torn between his feelings for her and his duty to his kingdom.
On his way to Kadambur, he meets Parthiban, who tells him that Arulmozhi Varman and Vandiyathevan are alive and have reached Lanka. He also tells him that Arulmozhi Varman has been crowned the king of Lanka by the locals, who see him as a saviour. Aditha Karikalan is happy to hear this news, but he also feels insecure about his brother’s popularity. He decides to go ahead with the meeting at Kadambur, hoping to resolve the conflict peacefully.
However, things take a turn for the worse when he reaches Kadambur. He finds out that Nandini has poisoned his food and drink, and that she has hired assassins to kill him. He also realizes that Nandini is not his true love, but her twin sister Mandakini, who has been impersonating her all along. Mandakini reveals that she hates the Cholas because they killed her father, who was a Pandiya king. She also tells him that she has another sister, who is still alive and will avenge her death. She then stabs herself in front of him, leaving him shocked and heartbroken.
Aditha Karikalan manages to escape from Kadambur with the help of Parthiban and some loyal soldiers. He reaches Thanjavur, where he reunites with his father and sister. He also meets Arulmozhi Varman and Vandiyathevan, who have returned from Lanka. He apologizes to his brother for doubting him and tells him that he is the rightful heir to the throne. He also confesses his love for Nandini/Mandakini and asks for forgiveness from Kundavai. He then dies in their arms, leaving them in grief.
The movie ends with Arulmozhi Varman being crowned as the new king of the Chola empire, with Kundavai by his side. He vows to continue his father’s legacy and expand his kingdom. He also promises to find Nandini’s third sister and bring her to justice. The movie ends with a hint that there is more to come in this saga.
Some of the biggest names in the South Indian cinema industry acted in Ponniyin Selvan so there is no lack of quality in the actors’ & actresses’ performances to ensure realism for the Ponniyin Selvan movie audiences. Image source: India Today
The cast of Ponniyin Selvan Part 2 delivers exceptional performances that bring the characters to life. Some of the key actors & actresses and the roles that they played are as follows:-
- Vikram as Aditya Karikalan: Vikram is brilliant as the fierce and ambitious Aditya Karikalan, who is determined to become the next Chola king. He portrays the complex emotions of his character with ease, showing his charisma, courage, anger, and vulnerability. He has a powerful screen presence and shares great chemistry with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, who plays his love interest Nandini.
- Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as Nandini: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is stunning as Nandini, the beautiful and cunning wife of Periya Pazhuvettaraiyar, who is secretly in love with Aditya Karikalan. She is the epitome of grace and elegance but also shows her dark side as a manipulative and ruthless schemer. She delivers her dialogues with flair and conviction and matches Vikram’s intensity in their scenes together.
- Karthi as Vandiyathevan: Karthi is charming as Vandiyathevan, the loyal friend and messenger of Arulmozhivarman. He remains the best character in the movie providing comic relief of the film and light-hearted moments with his witty remarks and antics. He also shows his emotional range as he falls in love with Kundavai, played by Aishwarya Lekshmi, and faces various challenges and dangers in his mission.
- Trisha Krishnan as Kundavai: Aishwarya Lekshmi is impressive as Kundavai, the princess of Chola and the sister of Arulmozhivarman. She is a strong and independent woman, who cares deeply for her brother and her people. She has a sweet and innocent look but also displays her intelligence and courage in various situations. She shares a lovely chemistry with Karthi and also has some memorable scenes with Jayam Ravi, who plays her brother.
- Jayam Ravi as Arulmozhi Varman: Jayam Ravi is splendid as Arulmozhivarman, the younger brother of Aditya Karikalan and the rightful heir to the Chola throne. He is a noble and humble prince, who is loved by everyone. He has a calm and composed demeanour but also shows his bravery and leadership skills when needed. He has a strong bond with Karthi and Aishwarya Lekshmi and also has some tense moments with Vikram.
One of the key differences between Ponniyin Selvan, the movie and the novel is how Aditha Karikalan tragically dies. There are other differences between the Ponniyin Selvan movie and the novel and that is not a new thing in the movie industry considering movie makers often make adjustments for budgetary & cinematic purposes. Mani Ratnam probably did for time and simplicity.
The Difference With the Novel
One of the highlights of Ponniyin Selvan Part 2 is its visually stunning cinematography. Mani Ratnam, known for his visual storytelling, creates breathtaking landscapes and intricately designed sets that transport the audience to the ancient world of the Chola dynasty. The attention to detail in the costumes, props, and overall production design is truly commendable.
However, there are some differences between the movie and the novel namely:-
- Novel: Kalki does not reveal who killed him in the novel and this is left to the readers’ imagination. For proof of death, there’s another novel called “Udayar” which kind of acts like the sequel to Ponniyin Selvan to tell that, it was the Ravidasan and Pandya gang who assassinated the crown prince and were later punished by Raja Raja Cholan.
- Movie: Aditha uses Nandhini’s hands and guides her to kill himself because of his broken heart.
Mandakini aka Oomai Rani’s secrets
- Novel: Mandakini commits suicide from a cliff after having one final look at her truly beloved “Sundara Chola” (who had already married Vanama Devi and was crowned the emperor of the Chola dynasty) but miraculously lives. After knowing Veerapandiyan had taken advantage of her during her unconscious period, she leaves. She delivers her babies, yes, not one but two. Twins. A boy and a girl. Nandhini and Madurantakan.
- Movie: PS2 showed only partial secrets. Subtle elements like Sundara Chola would be walking only upon Mandakini’s death, till he was completely bed-ridden. The movie showed him walking even in Ponniyin Selvan Nandhini’s past ties with her Mother were revealed yet the crucial boy was left intentionally.
- Novel: She harbours a one-sided love for Vandhiyathevan and she is the only character in the whole novel that gives complete innocent vibes. She made the book more human. She was the younger sister to Kandhamaran. In the final sequences after Aditha’s death, Manimekalai gets so distraught that her beloved Vandhiyathevan is accused of the prince’s death. She blames herself, sacrifices her love, and in the end, her life and mind, on the lap of her beloved. Even Periya Pazhuvettarayar kills himself for letting Nandhini’s tricks succeed and for losing Aditha.
- Movie: Manimekalai is not there in Ponniyin Selvan Part 2.
Uththama Cholan identity
- Novel: This is the most important twist at the end of Ponniyin Selvan. Sembiyan Madevi will reveal the truth to her foster son – Maduranthakan who is the product of Veerapandiyan and Mandakini, just like Nandhini. They are twins. She sternly says he was not even Chola to begin with, and how he can desire the Chola throne, being a Pandiyan by blood. So, who’s the real son and heir to the throne – the son of Kandirathitha Chola and Sembiyan Madevi was “Sendhan Amudhan”, the flower boy who lived a simple life dedicated to Lord Shiva (as wished by the late King) near the palace grounds.
- Movie: The whole arc was changed in Ponniyin Selvan Part 2. Maduranthakan who was shown in the novel as an effeminate and negative character throughout – suddenly becomes good and is crowned the kind. The war sequence was also not part of the actual novel. The sacrifice made by him at the end is what made him the biggest character in Ponniyin Selvan.
One thing that has been consistent in all of Mani Ratnam’s movies is the musical scores and songs. In Ponniyin Selvan Part 2, A.R. Rahman did a remarkable work giving us some of the memorable songs for the year and one is this song titled “Aga Naga” which shows the romance between Vanthiyathevan and Kundavai with Kundavai finally acknowledging her love to him.
Ponniyin Selvan In Summary
In a nutshell, there is a mixed reaction after the second part of Ponniyin Selvan after the cliffhanger in the first part. There are some positive scenes and there are some negative scenes in the second part of Ponniyin Selvan.
- The grand coronation ceremony of Sundara Chola, complete with elaborate rituals and mesmerizing music, is a visual treat.
- A thrilling battle sequence between Aditya Karikalan and his enemies showcases the prowess of the warrior prince.
- A poignant scene where Vandiyathevan, played by Jayam Ravi, confronts his past and makes a life-altering decision.
- The climactic sequence, filled with suspense and unexpected twists, leaves the audience eagerly awaiting the next instalment.
- The film is too long and has too many subplots and characters, making it hard to follow and connect with the main story arc. Some scenes feel unnecessary or repetitive, while some important events are glossed over or rushed. For example, the flashback scenes of Nandini and Aditha Karikalan’s love story could have been shortened or omitted as they did not add much to the present conflict.
- The film had some historical inaccuracies and deviations from the original novel that annoyed some fans and scholars. For example, the character of Parthibendra Pallavan was portrayed as a friend of Aditha Karikalan, whereas in the novel he was his rival and enemy. Also, the film showed Arulmozhi Varman as a pacifist who did not want to fight wars, whereas in history he was a great conqueror who expanded the Chola Empire to its zenith.
- The film had some technical issues such as poor dubbing, editing and CGI that affected the quality and realism of some scenes. For example, some dialogues were not in sync with the lip movements of the actors, some transitions were abrupt and jarring, and some visual effects were not convincing or realistic.
One of the impressive factor of the Ponniyin Selvan is the historical set by the art director, Thota Tharani and costumes which is well made to meet the actual set and costumes of the era. Image source: Lyca Productions/Youtube
This review of Ponniyin Selvan Part 2 was supposed to be done back in April 2023 but somehow it was forgotten due to other engagements. Whilst Ponniyin Selvan Part 2 continued the usual Mani Ratnam’s excellent style of storytelling from Part 1, somehow there is a feeling that Mani Ratnam rushed the remaining of the story from the novel & cramped it all into Part 2.
Despite so, bringing the historical novel of Ponniyin Selvan onto the big screen has rekindled everyone’s interest in the history of the Chola Kingdom which reigned power in South India more than 1,200 years ago.
The Chola Kingdom was one of the most powerful and influential dynasties in South India and Southeast Asia. It originated from the Tamil-speaking region of southern India and ruled over a vast maritime empire that spanned from the Maldives to Indonesia. The Chola Kingdom reached its peak of glory and expansion under the Medieval Cholas, who ruled from the 9th to the 13th centuries CE.
The Chola influence in Southeast Asia was not only political and military but also cultural and religious. The Cholas spread Hinduism and Buddhism to various regions, such as Cambodia, Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Vietnam. They also introduced the Tamil language, script, architecture, art, music, dance, and customs to these lands. They facilitated trade and commerce between India and Southeast Asia and fostered cultural exchange and integration.
The Chola Empire declined in the 13th century CE due to internal conflicts, invasions by the Pandyas and the Hoysalas, and natural disasters. The last Chola king, Rajendra III, was defeated by the Pandyas in 1279 CE.