Before reading this, it may be a good idea to re-visit my review of PS-1 (Read here) which will negate the need to repeat some of the common points regarding the format chosen for an epic like Ponniyin Selvan.
After the sequel of Bahubali, this must be the most awaited sequel in this part of the planet, I reckon. PS2 opens with a beautifully crafted flashback scene of a young Aditha Karikalan and Nandini and their blooming romance which is nipped in the bud. With this opening, Director Mani Ratnam and the writers (Jeyamohan and Elango Kumaravel) intentionally convey to us that this part is all about this pair and what happens around them. It is only after establishing this that they do a quick re-cap of PS1.
First up, the fact that this part can be seen and understood without watching PS1 at all is a huge credit to the writers for the way they conceived the storytelling and brought flashes of the old story in between at the right moments. Once the film picks up the thread from where PS1 left off, it moves at a very engaging and fast pace. Contrary to his usual style, Mani Ratnam packs this film with an overdose of drama in scene after scene which all land nicely. Drama in not just the dialogues but the entire staging with extremely dynamic camera movements, lighting and background score.
Coming to the storyline, I haven’t read Ponniyin Selvan in full but knew the story from YouTube videos. Clearly, there is a deviation in the film from Kalki’s Ponniyin Selvan. But if one watches the film in isolation, one can realise that Mani and his writing team have done a commendable job in making changes that would make the screenplay concise and seamless to match a film format while bringing closure for all important characters. Purists who expect an exact film version of Kalki’s story may find it objectionable and so will be the fact that some characters like Senthan and Poonguzhali etc. get shortchanged in the film, but for a movie watcher in isolation, it is a story very well told and executed.
The film is high on technique just like PS1 with Ravi Varman, Thotta Tharani, Sreekar Prasad and Shyam Kaushal (Action choreography) doing their respective jobs exceptionally well. With visibly minimum use of Computer graphics and special effects, the scenes play out very real. In a well-executed mini Bahubali-like war sequence towards the end, PS2 ends with a flourish with the coronation sequence. Rahman in my opinion makes amends with the choice of sounds and music design in PS2 compared to PS1. The songs though in the version of “shorts” in the film are all good with ‘Veera Raja Veera’ standing out when you hear and watch on the big screen. The song remains in your ears for a long time after you leave the theatre. Of course, the movie suffers from “over music” on and off but that is a minor quibble.
In terms of performances, Vikram owns this part of the film. As a wronged Aditha Karikalan he displays a range of emotions and owns each frame. In the important Kadambur encounter scene with Aishwarya which to me is staged as a redux of the Dil Se climax, both Aishwarya and Vikram are at their peak in terms of performance with the camera and lighting coming to play beautifully. It is one of the best performances of Vikram in recent times. The other cast including Trisha, Jayam Ravi Karthi, Jayaram etc.… do their roles competently. Ravi as in PS1 is a surprise pack.
With PS2, Mani as a director proves his mettle once again and in a way silences all his critics who claimed that he is past his prime. The film may not have one “Wow” moment per se but at the end, you get a huge “Wow… …” feeling and that’s a sign of a Masterpiece. PS2 addresses many of the nagging questions and concerns I had expressed in my PS1 review effectively.
Ponniyin Selvan 2 is a Must watch that too on the big screen.
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