PS 2 is not just a glorious tribute to the longest ruling empire in world history, but a beatific cinematic treatise : The Tribune India

PS 2 is not just a glorious tribute to the longest ruling empire in world history, but a beatific cinematic treatise

PS 2 is not just a glorious tribute to the longest ruling empire in world history, but a beatific cinematic treatise

Ponniyin Selvan 2

Film: Ponniyin Selvan 2

Director: Mani Ratnam

Cast: Vikram, Karthi, Jayam Ravi, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Trisha Krishnan, Sobhita Dhulipala, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Prabhu, Prakash Raj and Kishore Kumar G

Nonika Singh

Love and war, treachery and loyalty, grandeur and human frailty….The second part of Mani Ratnam’s Ponniyin Selvan opens the many strands of the narrative and holds you in a spell. Indeed, it’s imperative that you should have seen the prequel as the characters here are numerous, interrelated and back stories significant to truly comprehend the complex storyline. Of course, compared to PS1, which takes a while to establish its key characters, PS 2 connects the dots more easily. For by now you are already familiar with characters and their motives.

Taking us back to Nandini and Aditha Karikalan’s love story, we soak into how ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’. The rationale behind Nandini’s rage is crystal clear. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as the bewitching queen Nandini plots and schemes the downfall of her once lover and now enemy, the crown prince Aditha Karikalan. Along with the enemies of mighty Chola Empire, particularly the Pandyas, she is out to decimate not only Karikalan, but other heirs of the empire too.

The conspiracies (of her making) keep the interest and intrigue factor alive. Added by captivating cinematography (Ravi Varman’s brilliant camerawork from wide angle to intimate close-ups), lyrics by Gulzar, and music by AR Rahman, the master storyteller Mani Ratnam takes us right into the heart of history and drama. It’s a period perhaps we north Indians know and understand only from textbooks.

Here, based on Kalki Krishnamurthy’s epic historical-fiction novel, it is fleshed out as a tale of rulers as human beings not just as warriors, whose empire extended from the Maldives in the south to the banks of the Godavari River in Andhra Pradesh. The re-imagination of the golden period has all that it takes to create a majestic period piece and a lot more.

If the prequel climaxed with a teaser, there are more tantalising moments at hand. Arulmozhi Varman aka Ponniyin Selvan may have survived, but so have his enemies. And how he escapes a daring attack at the Buddhist monastery is one of the many climatic highs of the film. But if one expected more from Aishwarya’s double role, well, one is a tad disappointed. Not with Aishwarya though, who as Nandini and Mandakini mirrors the many emotions and shades of her part(s). A woman torn apart by love, set on the path of retribution, her emotional distress as Nandini is palpable. Vikram’s feelings as Aditha Karikalan are as angst-ridden and tread a similar path of heartbreak and tragedy.

Arulmozhi Varman aka Ponniyin Selvan’s arc finds a more affirming resolution. Jayam Ravi as the righteous ruler, who is just right for the part, impresses with his royal persona, charm and skills.

Cast in the titular part, the prince who rose to be the greatest of all Chola rulers, he is an epitome of selflessness and all that is right with royalty. ‘Praja par vishwas kiye bina prashasan nahi kiya ja sakta,’ he says with conviction and displays the same courage of conviction in his act and deeds.

Karthi, as Vallavaraiyan, the warrior prince of Vaana clan once again gets a meaty part, only this time around he is more serious than flirtatious. As the film navigates twists and turns, tragic too and finally arrives at a heartwarming finale, it’s a fulfilling treat. Visually no doubt, but equally engaging are the dramatic flourishes. The one involving Nandini and her mother Mandakini in particular comes like a bolt from the blue.

An epic drama made on an equally epic scale, PS 2 is not just a glorious tribute to one of the longest ruling empires in world history but a beatific cinematic treatise. Despite its rather long length of little less than three hours, it doesn’t lose you at any point. Of course, with attention paid to detail it also demands and commands your attention. A befitting sequel high on resplendence, emotional graphs and stellar acting, PS 2 once again proves that in the deft hands of Ratnam, time is relative and magic of cinema eternal.