Mani Ratnam directed Ponniyin Selvan: II which is the sequel in his two-part movie based on Kalki Krishnamurthy's famous fictional stories is all set to release in theaters from tomorrow i.e. April 28, 2023 [Friday]. While Mani Ratnam has said that Ponniyin Selvan 2 aka PS-2 will make sense even as a standalone film, here is a recap of Ponniyin Selvan: I with inputs of the original story and characters:
Ponniyin Selvan: I is told mostly through the view of Vanthiyathevan, a warrior prince played by actor Karthi. In real life, origins of his clan are disputed but Kalki Krishnamurthy depicted him as a 'Vaanar' clan prince in his story, and it is the same in the movie too. This clan during the 960s AD i.e. when Ponniyin Selvan story takes place, occupied Thiruvallam of Vaanagapadi which is modern day Vilvanatheshwarar Temple at Chennai. At the PS-2 audio launch event, this fact even prompted a statement from Tamil Nadu minister for Water Resources Duraimurugan, that he 'feels proud' that the real life famous historical figure is from his constituency.
In the 10th century, paralyzed emperor Sundara Chozhar (Prakash Raj) of the Chola dynasty reigns prosperously while sons Aditha Karikalan (Vikram) and Arulmozhi Varman aka Ponniyin Selvan (Jayam Ravi) head conquests for the empire at Kanchi and Lanka. After being tipped of a conspiracy, Aditha Karikalan dispatches his trusted associate Vallavaraiyan Vandiyathevan (Karthi) to investigate, and pass on the information to Aditha's sister - Princess Kundavai (Trisha) and father Prakash Raj.
Vandiyathevan encounters Azhwarkkadiyan Nambi (Jayaram), who is doing the same work as him but for Queen mother Sembian Mahadevi (Jayachithra). Sembian Mahadevi's late husband is King Prakash Raj's paternal uncle, who passes the throne to his nephew since his own son Madurantaka Uttama Chola (Rahman) was a new born during that time. He instructs his wife that Rahman should be brought up as a bhakth of lord Shiva, meaning there should be no interest in the throne. Kalki Krishamurthy also adds another secret reason to why Uttama Chola was prevented from becoming a ruler, which is expected to be revealed in Ponniyin Selvan 2.
Karthi further learns that Jayaram is foster-brother to Nandini (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), who was Vikram's childhood love and whom Vikram still pines for. Nandini is currently plotting the downfall of the Cholas because during a war with the Pandyas, Vikram sees her with the Pandya King (Nasser) and beheads him out of jealously. To exact revenge, she infiltrates the Cholas by marrying a much senior Periya Pazhuvettaraiyar (Sarath Kumar) who incidentally has King Prakash Raj under his control and fails to see Nandini's vengeful propaganda.
When Karthi delivers Rahman's aspirations for the throne to princess Kundavai (Trisha), she inturn tasks him with bringing her younger brother Ponniyin Selvan (Jayam Ravi) back from Lanka. But Aishwarya Rai Bachchan along with the remaining warriors of her fallen Pandya kingdom plot to kill Jayam Ravi on his way back. The Pandyas succeed in sinking Ponniyin Selvan's ship (the medieval Cholas in real life were among the first known human race to do maritime trade) but the prince is saved by an Aishwarya Rai look-alike, who goes by Oomai Rani.
Ponniyin Selvan 2 will reveal who this deaf-and-mute Oomai Rani is, what is her connection to Nandini and the Cholas, why did she save Ponniyin Selvan not once but twice, why was Vikram wrong in his judgement [spoilers here], what happens to Vikram and Aishwarya Rai, and who will finally succeed Prakash Raj to become the next Chola King. It is worth mentioning here that Ponniyin Selvan went on to become one of the most revered Tamil Kings in real life, and history knows him as Raja Raja Chola I.