At a press meet held in Bengaluru ahead of the film's release, Karthi alluded to the possibility, without divulging anything concrete
It is no mean feat to condense a massive five-volume literary vastness into a two-part film and when Mani Ratnam took on the task, there was undeniable scepticism in the air. One never doubted his capabilities but the term 'justice' was thrown up a bunch of times during the course and one key aspect of this discourse was the risk of presenting the sprawling story in a succinct manner.
Mani Ratnam, aided by a mega ensemble star cast and his most trusted associates in composer A.R. Rahman, cinematographer Ravi Varman and editor A. Sreekar Prasad, forged on nevertheless and realized his decade-long dream of bringing Kalki Krishnamurthy's story to the big screen. The first instalment of the two-part epic saga received encouraging reviews, with photography, production design, costumes and performances garnering positive comments and the slightly 'relentless' approach to the screenplay attracting some criticism. Regardless, Ponniyin Selvan 1 ended its theatrical run as the highest-grossing Tamil film of the year 2022.
The focus now shifts to Ponniyin Selvan 2, or PS 2, which is scheduled to release worldwide on April 28. For the majority, the film promises to tie up the loose ends and gravitate the vast story towards the nucleus that is meant to lend the intended poetic meaning to it all. For the rest, it is an examination of how well the cult characters are treated and how much of the essence of the source story is retained or forgone.
In that vein, could we expect the veteran Mani Ratnam to conceive a 'cinematic universe' of a kind to offer justice to Kalki's epic? Could there be further instalments of the Ponniyin Selvan world which see that the mammoth story meets its fitting end? Well, in all fairness, the filmmaker has alluded to no such thing so far and judging by the amount of effort and time a 'universe' of this kind requires, he could be expected to simply move on to other pastures. And yet, one continues to hear muffled chatter about the prospective Mani Ratnam Cinematic Universe.
"I know Mani sir is thinking of something in that zone, but I cannot tell you that," said Karthi (joined by Vikram, Trisha and Jayam Ravi) at a recent press meet to only fuel the speculations swirling around. His coy response came in a response to a question pertaining to the Lokesh Kanagaraj Cinematic Universe (LCU), of which he is already a part, and whether Mani Ratnam could weave a universe of his own in the future. While Karthi's reply solidifies almost nothing and neither does it give anyone the hope of a desi MCU, his acknowledgement does reveal that Mani Ratnam and Co. are certainly discussing the idea.
So, who knows? There could be another Ponniyin Selvan instalment to explore Vallavaraiyan Vandiyadevan's flamboyance, to further glorify the grace of Kundavai, or to delve deeper into the valour & poignance of Aditha Karikalan. Kalki's novel, and also the surrounding real history, offer great opportunities for the makers in terms of depth and drama, but with films of such scale and vision demanding a lot of endurance, their viability is ultimately a question of practicality. We have got our fingers crossed in hopes of seeing Mani Ratnam's Ponniyin Selvan cinematic universe seeing the light of day.