After breaking several box-office records last year, the trailer for the second part for Mani Ratnam’s historical magnum opus, “Ponniyin Selvan” was launched last evening at an event in Chennai. The first film saw Ratnam’s decades-long dream of adapting Kalki Krishnamurthy’s historical epic into a movie. The 10th century story is immensely seeped into the Tamilan culture, and the same was echoed in the reception of the film that ended up shattering records.

The first part had grossed more than ₹500 crore (US$63 million) at the global box office, and became the second-highest-grossing Tamil film of all time just after Shankar’s 2028 “2.0”. The film also witnessed great footfalls in the northern states, which collectively helped it emerge as the 15th highest-grossing Indian film of all time. With the help of its brilliant scale and multilayered political backdrop, the film achieved a sort of realistic expression that hasn’t been seen in the genre lately. Along with Ravi Varman’s visually striking cinematography and Thotta Tharani’s meticulous and rooted art work, a big part of the world building in the film was born out of its soundtrack. Afterall, one thing that fans expect Ratnam’s films to deliver upon is the soundtrack, from his long time collaborator A. R. Rahman.

With a screenplay co-written by Mani Ratnam himself along with Jeyamohan and Kumaravel, the first film had posed the imminent power struggle between different branches of the ruling Chola family started causing violent rifts. The second film is expected to further expand into the characters’ motivation, bringing the neat setup of the stakes and dynasty worshipping from the first film to its narrative conclusion. The story, mainly told from Chola’s perspective, centers around Raja Raja Chozhan and how the dynasty became the most prosperous and powerful empire on the continent and one of the most successful and long reigning ones in history.

The first film had opened with Chiyaan Vikram’s Aditha Karikalan commanding his loyal companion Vandiyadevan, played by Karthi, to deliver a message to his father. Now, Arulmozhivarman must figure out his next move with the speculated news of his brother being dead with Vandiyadevan missing. But what remains the central crux of the story is his unresolved and complicated past with Nandini, played by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. What is Nandini’s ultimate motive of luring him to Thanjavur?

In one of the standout scenes from the trailer, Karikalan confronts Periya Pazuvettaraiyar, played by senior actor R Sarath Kumar, and his allies about the importance of the Chola dynasty, and what it stands for. The emotional outburst becomes a bridge to the soundtrack, from which point the 3-minute long trailer shows us some of the most interesting character juxtapositions to near perfection.

There’s also Jayam Ravi, who plays Arunmozhi Varman aka the future Raja Raja Chola. He seems to have finally made his way to the empire. We first see him at the Buddha Viharam in Kodikarai amidts the monks, and then later in a nonchalantly choreographed action sequence with a sword.

But one of the most intriguing characters remains that of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s, as the fans over the internet are already going crazy with their theories. It’s no wonder that some of the finest shots in the trailer feature her, and here it’s finally confirmed that she seems to be in double rolls by also playing Oomai Rani aka Mandakini Devi – a character that was vaguely revealed at the climax portions of “Ponniyin Selvan I”. The stills revealed through the teaser posters and now the trailer already has us excited, and we can’t wait to finally watch what Ratnam has made for us.

The best part, however, remain the end portions of the “Ponniyin Selvan 2” trailer that show the spine-chilling face-off scene between Aditha Karikalan and Nandini. Nandini, who is early seen taking a vow to kill Karikalan, is seen pointing the Pandya king’s sword at his chest, thus bringing their entire arc to a full circle. What was the reason behind Nandini’s betrayal? What fate will the unrequited love of the Chola crown price bring him to?

Produced by Madras Talkies in association with Lyca Productions, Mani Ratnam’s epic “Ponniyin Selvan 2” is set to hit screens on April 28.


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