Ponniyin Selvan 2 review: Mani Ratnam delivers a mesmerising sequel

Remarkable performances by lead actors, AR Rahman's music, and Ravi Varman's visuals make it a treat to watch.

ByManigandan KR

Published:Aug 10, 2023

Ponniyin Selvan 2
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Ponniyin Selvan 2 (Tamil)

  • Cast: Vikram, Karthi, Jayam Ravi, Aishwarya Rai, Trisha, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Sobhita Dhulipala, Prakash Raj, Jayaram, Prabhu, R Sarathkumar, R Parthiban, Rahman, Lal and Vikram Prabhu.
  • Direction: Mani Ratnam
  • Producers: Mani Ratnam and A Subaskaran
  • Music: AR Rahman
  • Runtime: 2 hours 44 minutes

Director Mani Ratnam does a reasonably good job in Ponniyin Selvan 2 and completes the job he began well with Ponniyin Selvan 1.

In the sequel, Mani Ratnam condenses several portions and showcases only important developments. As a result, the story moves at a blistering pace from the word “go”.


Ponniyin Selvan 2 begins with young Nandini’s history and her relationship with crown prince Aditha Karikalan.

As a child, Nandini is decreed to be an orphan and permitted to stay at a temple by the river where her beauty catches the eye of young princess Kundavai. She asks her to be her friend and accompany her to the palace.

It is here that Kundavai’s brother Aditha Karikalan gets smitten by Nandini’s beauty.

Mani Ratnam's Ponniyin Selvan 2

A poster of Mani Ratnam’s ‘Ponniyin Selvan 2’. (Instagram)

However, young Aditha Karikalan is summoned to the front for war and when he returns, Nandini is evicted from the temple by the Chola family.

The flashback goes on to show why Nandini bears a grudge against Aditha Karikalan and why she is now busy colluding with the Pandyas to plot his death. It ends with a sinister plot that is hatched to kill Aditha Karikalan at the Kadambur Fort.

Even as Nandini is busy planning the death of Aditha Karikalan, her husband Periya Pazhuvettarayar is busy mustering support for Maduranthangan’s claim to be the next emperor of the Chola empire.

The Rashtrakutas, who have been beaten badly by Aditha Karikalan in battle and are waiting for an opportunity to wipe out the Cholas, see a golden chance.

They offer their support to Maduranthangan, making the possibility of a civil war within the Chola empire a real prospect. They wait for an ideal time to launch an attack on the Cholas.

Related: Exclusive interview with Jayam Ravi on Ponniyin Selvan 2

To their fortune, enemies of the Cholas like the Chalukyas and the Sri Lankans also join forces with them.

Meanwhile, in the Chola kingdom, rumours do the rounds that the second Chola prince Arunmozhi Varman, who left on a campaign to Sri Lanka, drowned at sea.

Karthi Trisha Ponniyin Selvan 2

Karthi and Trisha in a still from ‘Ponniyin Selvan 2’. (Twitter)

Panic sets in and the royal family is concerned for the safety of its prince whose life is under threat from the Pandian assassins dispatched by Nandini.

The illustrious empire of the Cholas is in grave danger. On one hand, all its enemies have now joined forces and are about to invade it from the outside, while a civil war threatens to break the empire from within.

As if this was not enough, a group of deadly assassins are out to get all the top three tigers — Emperor Sundara Chozhar, Crown Prince Aditha Karikalan and his younger brother Arunmozhi Varman.

How the kingdom and its heroes respond to these challenges is what the film is all about.

Story condensed

Mani Ratnam does a remarkably good job of narrating the story of the timeless Tamil classic Ponniyin Selvan.

For the sake of brevity, the director has condensed the story. While this helps the story move at a much faster pace, it also brings down the impact the developments have on you as an audience.

In other words, one is not able to fully appreciate the developments as even before one can wholly enjoy one development, the next one happens.

It is as if someone is in a tearing hurry to complete narrating a long story.

Enthralling performances

Aishwarya Vikram Ponniyin Selvan 2

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Vikram in a still from ‘Ponniyin Selvan 2’. (Twitter)

Other than that, Ponniyin Selvan 2 is a pleasure to watch. It has some incredible performances to offer. Vikram as Aditha Karikalan scores handsomely.

Fearless and full of love, not just for Nandini — who he knows will prove to be his nemesis — but also for his brother Arunmozhi Varman and sister Kundavai, Vikram stands tall as Aditha Karikalan.

Jayam Ravi, who plays the titular role of Arunmozhi Varman, delivers a stellar performance as well. He speaks in a measured tone and commands respect not just by his words but by his deeds as well.

Related: Ponniyin Selvan 1 is another testament to the greatness of Mani Ratnam

Both these actors stand out for their performances.

Equally outstanding is actress Aishwarya Rai who plays the roles of Nandini and Mandakini to perfection. But among the two, it is her performance as Nandini that steals the limelight.

Mani Ratnam's Ponniyin Selvan 2

A poster of Mani Ratnam’s ‘Ponniyin Selvan 2’. (Instagram)

Aishwarya brings to the fore the deadly dilemma that the character of Nandini is in — as a woman consumed by anger that craves the blood of the person who brutally butchered her dad to death and fighting the pain of having to kill the person, she loves with all her heart.

It requires immense mastery and Aishwarya delivers a commanding performance.

Actor Karthi as Vanthiyathevan does a reasonably good job. His performance in the humour sequences doesn’t hit the bull’s eye but he scores in the action and the serious sequences.

Superb technical support

AR Rahman’s music is just outstanding and becomes one with the plot so much so that you don’t even realise that music is a separate department.

Ravi Varman’s visuals are mind-boggling and are a treat to watch.

The lighting, the shots, the frames, the choice of colours and the symmetry in the scenes all leave you mesmerised. Each scene looks like a beautiful painting, even those from the battle sequences.

Related: Minister Durai Murugan on Ponniyin Selvan


In all, Ponniyin Selvan 2 has a lot more to offer than its prequel Ponniyin Selvan 1. It is a treat to watch!

(Views expressed are personal.)