Ponniyin Selvan 2 Review: Mani Ratnam paints a rare piece of art with superlative performances by muses Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Vikram, Jayam Ravi and Karthi

Film: Ponniyin Selvan 2- PS2

Cast: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Chiyaan Vikram, Jayam Ravi, Karthi, Trisha, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Sobhita Dhulipala, Jayaram, Sarathkumar, Prakash Raj, Prabhu

Director: Mani Ratnam

Rating: 3.5 Moons

Mani Ratnam- the name is enough to visualise the grandeur of a film. Among several filmmakers in India, Mani Ratnam is one of those who knows how to show women in a dignified, glorious and stunning manner. Taking the story of the Chola empire and the war against the Pandiyans, the second part of Ponniyin Selvan is all that the first wasn't. This time, emotional intimacy and, interpersonal relationships form the core and the stakes are certainly higher.

After being rescued by a mute old lady, Arulmozhi Varman (Jayam Ravi) has another battle to win. The battle of life and death all over again. While the war for the kingdom continues, the sentiment of revenge burns within Nandini (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) who believes Aditha Karikalan (Chiyaan Vikram) and the Cholas have wronged her. But King Sundara Chola’s (Prakash Raj) palace holds secrets as huge as the doors. 

Mani Ratnam is back. His storytelling style with Ponniyin Selvan 2 proves he's the master of epic tales. While the first part was a slow-burn, snooze fest with multiple characters and an unclear narrative, the second edition is worth the wait and patience that went into watching the previous one. Using drama, politics and romance to build the tension, he shows how to make a period drama without depending too much on special effects and over-the-top bloodshed. He does an exemplary job in compiling the illustrious epic, Ponniyin Selvan by Kalki, in just two films. 

The veteran filmmaker pins your attention to the screen in the first half and sets the foundation for a magnificent post-interval half. Engaging with visual brilliance and the right dose of drama, Ponniyin Selvan 2 is a masterclass in filmmaking. All the loose ends that were left in Ponniyin Selvan 1 are connected seamlessly now. The characters have more depth, relatability value and a graph that escalates gradually. Due to many characters and an unclear screenplay, the prequel got confusing but Mani Ratnam is here with a redemption.


Ponniyin Selvan 2 gives the history of Indian cinema one of its finest and most addictively stunning pre-climax moments. The face-off between Aditha and Nandini is deep, gut-wrenching and soul-pleasing. The sheer intensity in their eyes speaks volumes of their craft and the impact of being directed by the detail-freak Mani Ratnam. Cinematic is just an understatement. The tension-building and mood-setting that leads to the showdown make it a rare piece of art. 

When one visualises a period drama, the first thought that comes to mind is over-the-top grandeur, heavy visual effects and a typical costume drama. Thankfully, Ponniyin Selvan 2 is none of that. Despite women and men being dressed in a certain way, it never feels awkward. There are no moments where you will be thrown out of the world that the film sucks you into. Wrapping your mind and heart in a warm blanket of emotions, the dynamics every relationship shares in Mani Ratnam's world makes sense. At the end of the film, you will step out feeling conclusive. 

Ponniyin Selvan 2 is packed with some surprises. Allow the film to grow on you gradually. Having said so, the narrative dips for a bit in the first half. Without wasting much time, it does soar up with the beginning of the second half. The runtime is excruciating (2 hours 45 minutes). If you aren't a fan of period dramas, the duration could make it a little difficult to sit through. However, sit through to experience the brilliance of Mani Ratnam and his muses-Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Chiyaan Vikram and Jayam Ravi.

Despite being an ensemble film, the limelight always remains on the four pillars- Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Chiyaan Vikram, Jayam Ravi and Karthi. Trisha as Kunthavai grabs the spotlight when needed but there's very little for her to showcase. Prakash Raj does a fine job as King Sundara. His moments of revelation are incredible. Sobhita Dhulipala is restricted as Vanathi. She shines when she's on screen. Aishwarya Lekshmi is impressive but she's underutilised.

This magnum opus proves assures that Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is in the best hands. Being her 'Guru', Mani treats her as a queen. Adding several layers to the character of Nandini, Aishwarya teams up with the maverick to make her a remarkable person. The sentiment of revenge, longing, desire, love and feeling accepted coats Nandini's soft heart. There's pain in her eyes that pierces straight into the heart. Aishwarya's charm remains intact throughout. Only she could translate Nandini's grace, elegance and beauty on the big screen. 

Chiyaan Vikram is a winner in Ponniyin Selvan 2. His screen presence is so impactful that one cannot take him away from the mind. As Aditha, he delivers a power-packed act and steals the limelight. He takes charge in the second half like a king and commands attention from the audience who will be in for a spectacular treat. 

Jayam Ravi is a treat to watch. Playing Arulmozhi Varman, he delivers a rock-solid act. The calmness in his voice and demeanor is always a winning aspect. He refuses to miss out on adding some playfulness and softness to the character. Jayam is one of the strongest and pivotal pillars of Ponniyin Selvan 2. Karthi performs fantastically as Vallavaraiyan Vandiyadevan. 

A R Rahman's music adds weight to the film and sets the mood right. The cinematography is delightful and exceptional. Ponniyin Selvan 2 could have been slightly shorter but the key sequences make all of it worthwhile. The second part is richer, prettier and a not-to-miss affair.

PeepingMoon gives Ponniyin Selvan 2 3.5 Moons