Cholas strike back | Sunday Observer
Film review

Cholas strike back

21 May, 2023
A scene from the film
A scene from the film

Ponniyin Selvan PS 2, a sequel to Ponniyin Selvan PS 1, is now being screened worldwide. Ponniyin Selvan PS 1 received mixed reviews and became a box office success earning nearly 500 crores ($70 million) globally. The second part of the film directed by Mani Ratnam is yet another successful movie.

The reappearance of the Cholas is stirring up excitement, as Mani Ratnam’s grandiose film becomes a cinematic masterpiece. The opening sequence of the movie immediately transports us to the majestic era of the Chola dynasty.

The movie is an adaptation of Kalki Krishnamurthy’s five-volume novel of the same title. The epic drama narrates the story of the Chola dynasty which established the great Chola Empire in the 9th century AD. Having set the plot in motion in the first part of the film, Mani Ratnam dives right into the heart of the novel – the unrequited love between Crown Prince Aditya Karikalan (played by Vikram) and Nandhini (played by Aishwarya Rai).

The film begins with a prelude that captures the romance between the two characters when they were young and without saying too much in the form of dialogues. The director shows us the blossoming of love between a prince and an orphan girl and the problems it leaves in the wake of them being separated by forces beyond their control.

Doomed romance

In fact right until the climax, the doomed romance is what sustains the tension in the tale that drives characters to make decisions that would have far-reaching repercussions. The viewer finally gets to know how they fall in love with each other and what transpires between them and Prince Aditya Karikalan’s sister Kundavai (played by Trisha). It also shows how they become the heart and soul of the storyline. Until the intermission, the film continues with the brisk narration. Even in Kalki’s novel, one gets a rather low-key ending with too many twists. However, the film gives us a more agreeable twist with the speech that Prince Arunmozhi Varman aka Raja Rajan delivers in the end to make the ultimate sacrifice.

The film brings back all the beloved characters from the first part of the film. A notable sequence in the film warrants a special mention as it offers a breathtakingly captivating experience. Aishwarya Rai and Vikram’s roles depict a mesmerisingly intimate frame showcasing the remarkable talents of the duo. Aishwarya Rai’s astounding performance in the scene is particularly noteworthy. She exudes an aura that effortlessly captivates the viewer’s attention. The moment evokes a sense of enchantment elevating the film into a cinematic masterpiece. Trisha as Kundavai with her charm and dignity has been beautifully captured through the director’s lens.

Star-studded cast

With a star-studded cast, it is impossible to single out any one actor as all of them have given exceptional performances leaving the audience mesmerised.

Vikram as Aditya Karikalan, Jayam Ravi as Arun Mozhi Varman and Karthi as Vanthiya Devan have all delivered their roles excellently. The magnificence of the movie is undoubtedly its stunning visual appeal which is outstanding. Cameraman Ravi Varman should get the credit for the visuals which are more or less like beautiful paintings. A.R. Rahman’s music is captivating especially the song‘Aga naga.’ The scriptwriter Jaya Mohan and lyricist Illango Kumaravel have excelled in their work.

Mani Ratnam, the wizard of cinematic artistry, conjures up a sense of realism and poetry that is unparalleled. The characters in the movie seem to possess an otherworldly quality that imbues them with godlike traits, beautifully capturing the grandeur of the Cholas. Subhaskaran Allirajah of Lyca Production has done a wonderful job. Without his generous funding, the film would not have seen the light of day. How the Sri Lankan-born, London-based entrepreneur is dominating the Kollywood movie industry is another story.

The film is a real treat for film fans. It is full of moments that will linger in your mind even after the movie comes to an end.

The writer is a freelance journalist and Indologist in Hyderabad, India.