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PS-2: A more focused film than part 1

By

Prabhatha Rigobertha

April 30, 2023

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.

Star studded with good performances from many.

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.

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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).

War scenes do not provide the high

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.

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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.

Aishwarya Rai Bachcan and Vikram, Aishwarya does a good job in bringing out the dilemmas.

As Nandini Aishwarya does a good job in bringing out the dilemmas that her character goes through. Nandini isn’t a very likeable person but at the same time you don’t hate her completely either. It also does help that Nandini has certain charm about her which Aishwarya portrays effortlessly. As Mandakini though she does fall short majorly due to the way the character has been written.

The romanticscenes have a classic Mani Ratnam samp, Karthi and Trisha.

The romantic scenes between Karthi and Trisha’s Kundavai have a classic Mani Ratnam stamp. There is a scene in the island where Karthi’s character is blindfolded and subtle romance follows between the two.

As Vandhiyadevudu Karthi continues from where he left off in the first part. He not only provides entertainment with his antics, but also shows his all round capability in the more emotional scenes. In the title role Jayam Ravi brings in the required authority. He commands our attention with his mere presence.

Technically PS-2 is as rich as the first one. The production design by Aparna Thota Tharani is fantastic. The production design enhances the work of the cinematographer Ravi Varma. He does a good job in showcasing the scale of the film through his lens. The VFX department also does a fair job.

Coming to the shortcomings, PS-2 feels super stretchy much like the first part. The run time of 2 hours and 50 minutes does feel quite long more so with the severely underwhelming battle scenes. The battle scenes have been rather clumsily staged and don’t provide the viewers with any high.

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The portions featuring Jayaram is reduced to a stock comic character. Even the likes of Prakash Raj and Sarath Kumar suffer on the account of ineffective characterizations.

The film has also got some unnecessary slow mo moments and close up shots that end up irritating the audiences more than giving an extra edge.   

In spite of these flaws Maniratnam deserves credit for exploring a relatively unknown part of history on pan India screen. And in this he is ably aided by some good performances and also the technical team.

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Prabhatha Rigobertha
Prabhatha Rigobertha
Rigobertha Prabhatha has been writing on movies, web series, books, etc. on social media platforms like Facebook for a few years. He has a YouTube channel "prabhathalovesmovies" in which he posts video reviews. "I have only two windows to my world - movies and books" reads it's tagline. He is a student of English literature and currently working as Content Writer at Pudami Publications based in Hyderabad.

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