Mani Ratnam: ‘Ponniyin Selvan 2’ will shine more than the first film; that was just an introduction

The stars of ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ talk about the upcoming sequel, and how different their characters are going to be after the events of the first part

April 18, 2023 06:28 pm | Updated April 21, 2023 04:46 pm IST

Team ‘Ponniyin Selvan’

Team ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

After the phenomenal success of Ponniyin Selvan 1, the Cholas are back for the sequel. With stakes higher than ever, the team promises that there’s a lot in store with Ponniyin Selvan 2, set to be released on April 28.

Right now, Mani Ratnam’s cast of A-listers is travelling across the country to promote PS: 2. In Chennai, we catch up with them as they promote the conclusion to the epic saga.

ALSO READ: ‘Ponniyin Selvan: 1’ movie review: Epic story gets Mani Ratnam’s royal treatment

Jayam Ravi (Arunmozhi Varman AKA Ponniyin Selvan):

PS 1 had a lot of character introductions and every 15 minutes, there was something new happening; that sort of screenplay was exciting. In PS 2, it’ll be like the climax from the get-go. After PS 1 was released, based on the comments it received, improvements have been made to the sequel; this film will be an upgraded version for sure.

Jayam Ravi at the press meet of ‘Ponniyin Selvan 2’

Jayam Ravi at the press meet of ‘Ponniyin Selvan 2’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

In PS 1, despite being a prince, my character would sport regular attire or that of a mahout as he is in hiding. The second part is a rebirth of sorts to him and his return to Thanjai to the brilliant ‘Veera Raja Veera’ track will be a highlight.

The response to the project has been incredible. We heard that elderly people with oxygen cylinders and walking sticks visited theatres after ages to watch PS. Theatre owners called me and said that some audience members turned up with tiffin boxes, not knowing that it has been years since theatres allowed outside food! We have even heard stories of theatre owners requesting repeat audiences to allow the ones who haven’t seen the film to watch it once.

Trisha (Kundavai):

PS is a story that longed to be made into a film right from the days of MGR. I’m glad I got to be a part of it and it’s nice to be the face of Kundavai. The first part was a character introduction for the whole cast. While the romance portions in PS 1 were restricted to speaking with our eyes and a sense of flirtation, in PS 2 there will be more romance and it’ll be evident that Kundavai and Vandiyadevan like each other.


Trisha | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

I’m a Chennai ponnu and I grew up watching Mani sir’s films. So we don’t even think about how a woman character in his film would be; you just know how it is. We go in blind and follow everything Mani sir said, but he also made sure we had a few months of prep time which gave us the space to process the character. This made things much easier on the sets. After a film like this, there’s obviously pressure as to what we’re doing next. It also motivates us to be careful with the type of films we’ll choose hereafter.

ALSO READ: Down memory lane: When Mani Ratnam and G Venkateswaran wanted to make ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ in 1989

Karthi (Vallavaraiyan Vandiyadevan):

The novel has all sorts of genres; right from romance and suspense yo action and history, and this was the reason it was such a challenge to adapt Kalki’s work. While making it into a film, it should reach the masses who haven’t read the books, as well as satisfy the ones who’ve read them.

My mom rarely does an appreciation call, but she called and told me the film was fantastic. I was worried about how my wife would take in the fact that my character is known for his flirtations, but she was also happy with how dignified the character was.


Karthi | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

As far as PS 2 is concerned, the film will be interesting to even those who’ve read the novels. Vandiyadevan once again meets Nandini and Kundavai while they are alone in PS 2, and the situation is different from their earlier visits. So my character needed correction as to how he would talk and react.

My dad often says that just like how every grain of rice has the name of the person consuming it, every frame has the name of the actor performing in it. I got to play a role that has crossed many actors over the years and I have given it my best. It’s nice to hear many people say now that they can’t see anyone else in that role but me.

ALSO READ: On the ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ trail: Travellers explore Tamil Nadu in newer ways

Vikram Prabhu (Parthibendran Pallavan):

Vikram Prabhu

Vikram Prabhu | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

For us, both the films feel like just one project; we have already spoken so much about it, but it still feels new at the same time. The character I played, Parthibendran Pallavan, will be seen more in PS 2 and he’s a part of many crucial scenes. Being a part of such a project is truly unforgettable.

Sobhita Dhulipala (Vaanathi):

Sobhita Dhulipala

Sobhita Dhulipala | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Ponniyin Selvan has been my first film in Tamil and there was a lot of curiosity and excitement as to how my character would be received. I had great fun as my role is dramatically different from what I’ve done earlier, and it was really a privilege and pleasure. I believe all of us have different shades in us, and in cinema, we rarely get to showcase them all. Thanks to well-written characters and screenplay, this film gave us the space to perform.

Director Mani Ratnam:

Kalki had written such well-defined characters in his novel; they’re neither just black nor just white, they have all the shades. As we had such defined characters and actors who were ready to prepare and do homework, it was easier. It was a lot of content to condense into two films, so you try to take the basic elements and put them in an order where it peaks at one point and leads to another. I think the books were also split in that manner.

Karikalan’s portion might be less in the novel but references to him are very strong and I believe that is the fulcrum of PS. In the written format, characters talking about a person can be mentioned easily... but as a film, we have to show it.

Mani Ratnam at the press meet of ‘Ponniyin Selvan 2’

Mani Ratnam at the press meet of ‘Ponniyin Selvan 2’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Since we shot both films together, we didn’t have to drastically change much in the sequel. PS 1 is an introduction, PS 2 is the actual film, and we are confident that the sequel will shine more than the first part. When doing a film, that alone is my obsession and though there are many books on Ponniyin Selvan, I didn’t read them.

The film is releasing on April 28 and from the next day, I’ll read any book I’m recommended (laughs). Also, the film is not the same without AR Rahman. While we have narrated the film through scenes, he has parallelly narrated the story through music. He knows where to underline, pause, lift and convert emotion into music.

There will be more long-form content in Tamil going forward. There is a different rhythm to it; I’ve been used to a certain form for years now from which it is difficult to come out, but such formats are liberating for a storyteller. We don’t have to restrict ourselves to just making a two-and-a-half-hour film and that’s fantastic.

Ponniyin Selvan 2 will be releasing theatrically on April 28

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