By Jyothi Venkatesh
Ponniyin Selvan: II is the second part of filmmaker Mani Ratnam’s screen adaptation of author Kalki Krishnamurthy’s 1955 Tamil novel of the same name, which was published week after week in the popular Tamil weekly Kalki way back 50 years ago. The first part, “Ponniyin Selvan: I” was released in September 2022.
Ponniyin Selvan: II also starring Jayam Ravi, Karthi, Vikram, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Prakash Raj, among others, is set to be released countrywide on Friday April 28 in Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. It is backed by Ratnam’s production house Madras Talkies and Allirajah Subaskaran’s banner Lyca Productions.
The maverick filmmaker Mani Ratnam proved that he does not at all mince words when he grandly declared at the trailer launch press conference of his latest release Ponniyin Selvan 2 at PVR Andheri that he would not bother to offer his favorite actress Aishwarya Rai a role in any project of his, even if he is in love with her, because he is really true to his avocation. This, he said when a reporter asked him whether he offers Aishwarya Rai a role in his film only because he is very fond of her, especially since he has cast her in not one or two but four films of his so far- Iruvar with which he have her a break, Guru, Ravanan, Ponniyin Selvan and now Ponniyin Selvan 2. Yes. In her career of over 20 years, Aishwarya has forged a successful collaboration with celebrated filmmaker Mani Ratnam.
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Aishwarya enthused, “As an actor, wherever we get the opportunity to shine, learn, to grow and to be able to do fabulous work, it naturally draws you. From the Tamil film industry, the actor said that she is grateful to have collaborated with stalwarts like Mani Ratnam, Shankar and music director AR Rahman. “I was blessed to have got the opportunity to work with Mani garu in my first film. Why wouldn’t I say a yes? Thereafter, I got to work with wonderful directors like Rajiv Menon and Shankar, so naturally I will say yes to these movies that I have done, the proof is in the pudding.
“Besides, all the films have had AR Rahman’s music, why wouldn’t I happily say yes to these incredible combinations of talent. It’s not about going here or there. Since the beginning of my career, I have made it clear with my choices, that I don’t follow these thought processes, systems and that’s never been my journey and reasons for my choices. You can call it adoration, devotion, thankfulness or love, (shraddha, guru bhakti, kritagyata)… Label it whatever you want to, the point is it will always be a yes. But why wouldn’t it be a yes? Any actor deeply aspires to work with him. When his name or message flashes (on the phone), you cannot imagine the excitement,” she said.
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Aishwarya also added that it was a “beautiful coincidence” that two of her favourite characters — from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Ratnam’s Ponniyin Selvan — were both named Nandini. “It is amazing that it has happened. Nandini in ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ was very memorable; she has lived in people’s hearts. I am very thankful that I got to play Nandini then too. She has remained special to the audience and of course to me. ”
Aishwarya Rai signed off. “Today with Mani garu, I got to play Nandini in Ponniyin Selvan. That’s just tremendously a blessing to have gotten to play such a strong and layered woman, who touches the lives of so many women out there. There is a kind of relatability and for that I am very grateful”.