‘Ponniyin Selvan 2’ (2023) Ending, Explained: Did Nandini’s Plan Work In Her Favor?

The first part of Ponniyin Selvan was released in October, and it ended on a note that would have audiences eager to come back to theaters and witness the fate of these characters as the story moves forward in the second installment. The movie ended with the bad news of Arunmozhi Varman drowning in the sea along with Vallavaraiyan Vandiyadevan. The news of his supposed death shattered the people living in the capital, especially the King and his family. The conspirators did not see this as bad news at all. Perhaps they wanted this, especially Nandini Devi, who aimed to destroy the Chola Kingdom. Will her plan from here on be put into motion? Is it possible for her to destroy the kingdom from within?

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Spoilers Ahead


Aditha And Nandini

Ponniyin Selvan 2 begins with an elaborate montage of the growing attraction and love between Aditha and Nandini. Both were young teenagers when they fell in love, and the attraction was instant. Nandini was a young orphan but a beautiful girl who lived with the priest adjacent to the palace of Thanjavur. Aditha was captivated by her beauty and pursued her relentlessly. Nandini also never resisted his advances and she was visibly upset to see him go off to war. It is easy to see the love they carry for each other from such a young age and the hope that this love will transform into something in their favor. Aditha and Nandini were sure to want to get married. Aditha was very keen on letting people know about his love for Nandini. He was keen on letting his family know that she will be the future queen of the kingdom, as he intended to marry her. Aditha’s sister, Kundavai, was not keen on the match. She felt Nandini insulted her by not accepting Kundavai’s proposition to become her friend in the wake of Aditha’s interest in Nandini. The Chola ruling family was quick to ask Nandini to leave the town and never to look back, leaving Aditha despondent. Nandini, at this point, was not sure why she was asked to leave the palace grounds and the kingdom. Fate had other plans for the star-crossed lovers. Is Nandini the key to something that the Chola king was not ready to unlock by making her the heir apparent’s wife?

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Years later, as Aditha is on his way to meet his family in Thanjavur in the wake of the news of his brother’s death. The Pallava king Parthibendran Pallavan stops to confirm his brother’s death and lets him know of the proposition put forward by Nandini and her husband Periya Pazhuvettarayar, who want to have a peace talk about avoiding a civil war. Aditha is quick to understand that the Pallava King has been manipulated by Nandini to make him believe that the meeting at her palace at Kadambur would help them with a solid solution in the wake of Arunmozhi’s death, but Aditha is sure there is a bigger scheme being plotted against him. He could see in his friend’s or ally’s eyes the way Nandini played with her words to convince Aditha to join the meeting. Aditha is not sure if he should go ahead with the meeting, but the love and infatuation he still carries for Nandini forces him to consider a trip just to see her and probably have a discussion with her on what her bigger plan is other than killing him. Aditha, who is known more for being a battle-hardened warrior than a prince, can judge what his fate will be if he plans to meet with the conspirators.


Vandiyadevan, The Messenger

Vandiyadevan and Arunmozhi Varman survive the shipwreck thanks to an elderly woman with long white hair pulling them out of the choppy seas. Vandiyadevan turns out to be okay, but Arunmozhi takes ill with a high fever. Vandiyadevan hands over Ponniyin Selvan to Poonguzhali and requests she and Amudhan take him to a Buddhist monastery in Nagapattinam in the hope the Buddhist allies will cure him of this deadly fever and Ponniyin Selvan will be back in action in no time. Meanwhile, Vandiyadevan is confronted by the Pandiya rebels, and he is taken captive, only for him to see Nandini with them, plotting to kill Aditha at Kadambur because she is sure he would come if she invited him. Nandini is aware of the power she holds over Aditha, and that’s why she is sure her plan will work out. She further plans to get rid of Ponniyin Selvan and their father, Sundara Chozhan, on the same night she kills Aditha. Vandiyadevan, on the other hand, refuses to let them know of Arunmozhi’s location because that would mean he would betray his masters. He lets Nandini know that he came across a woman who looked exactly like her, and he knows that woman is most probably her mother. Vandiyadevan shares this information to barter his way out of Pandiyan’s captivity. Nandini lets him go, and the man is finally saved by Nambi, who asks him to head to meet Princess Kundavai and let her know of the plot he overheard about. Nandini probably let him go because she wanted Vandiyadevan to let the siblings know of the plot to get rid of them; it was, in a way, challenging their power to stop her.

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Vandiyadevan meets with Kundavai and lets her know of the plot being hatched to get rid of her brothers and father. Vandiyadevan also lets her know that Arunmozhi is alive and being treated at Nagapattinam. Kundavai is elated to hear the news, and she starts sailing to meet her brother. Kundavai and Vandiyadevan flirt by letting each other know they are available, and they would consider each other partners for life. The love they share stems from Vandiyadevan’s loyalty to the Cholas, and Kundavai would like to have a man like him who is not intimidated by her power and influence. Aditha is made aware of his brother’s survival through Nambi, and he sets out to meet Arunmozhi in Nagapattinam. The siblings meet in the monastery while Arunmozhi is recovering. The siblings get to meet each other after years apart, and they are happy to have this small reunion. They know plots are being hatched around them, and they must remain safe so that nothing untoward happens to anyone. The siblings, being raised in a palace, can sense deceit very quickly, which makes them smarter than most people around them. Vandiyadevan informs them of Nandini’s plan to kill Aditha in Kadambur. The siblings don’t recommend him going there, but the man has decided to go there, which is very much against his and everyone else’s instincts.

Kundavai is curious to know the woman who rescued Arunmozhi because she is told the woman looks a lot like Nandini. Kundavai was the first person to question her father about why a mute woman who happens to resemble Nandini would help Arunmozhi out. She feels there is more to this story than is being let on. The Emperor confirms that Nandini is not his daughter with Mandakini, the mute woman he met in Lanka. Kundavai, at this point, is not sure if she can trust her father’s words anymore. Kundavai’s aunt also confirms that Mandakini arrived in Thanjavur, heavily pregnant, two years after Sundara Chozhan met her. The mystery surrounding Nandini’s father is still hovering like a big question. Nandini happens to be the big problem in their lives that refuses to go away. Kundavai is hoping something will come out of the meeting at Kadambur, but she is also afraid of what Nandini is capable of, as Aditha never got over the heartbreak of losing her.

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‘Ponniyin Selvan 2’ Ending Explained: What Happens To The Mighty Tigers Of The Chola Kingdom?

Sundara Chozhan’s cousin Madhurantakan is all set to make his claim heard now that Arunmozhi is dead, as per the news he has received. He gathers support from Shivan Adiyars, hoping it will help make his claim for the throne stronger. He also receives support from the Rashtrakuta King, who was defeated by Aditha. Madhurantakan’s only condition is to take over the throne without any bloodshed because he does not want to carry out any fratricide to get what is rightfully his. Madhurantakan is bitter about his claim being surpassed; but he does not want to kill any of his family members. A condition he sticks to because he does not want to be known as someone who killed his way up to become the next Chola emperor.

Aditha reaches Kadambur only to find that his army is not allowed inside the palace for logistical reasons. This was the first indication for him to understand that something was brewing, and he did not like the sound of it. He is sure that there will be an attempt on his life, which he lets them know out loud, but no one is willing to admit anything, especially Nandini. Aditha makes his demands clear on stepping away from the throne, but in return; he would not give back any land that he conquers from here on, which is for his and his siblings’ safety. Madhurantakan supporters, including Periya Pazhuvettarayar, agree to this plan of action. This way, a civil war can be avoided, and the relationship between the family members and other supporters will not sour over time. Aditha is clear on what he wants for himself and his siblings, and he is not willing to back out of it.

Meanwhile, Pandiyans spread a rumor that Arunmozhi was being held captive by the monks, which forced him to reveal his identity to the people of his kingdom. To showcase that he is not afraid of his people, Arunmozhi decides to be a part of the village celebration. With the man being fully treated for his ailments, he is all set to head back to the capital to reunite with his family. Arunmozhi is also made aware that an assassination attempt might happen if he goes out in the crowd and the rumor turns out to be true. Arunmozhi, though he survives the attempt, knows danger is lurking around his family, and he cannot wait to get back to Thanjavur so that he remains closer to his father and sister. Arunmozhi comes across as the smartest, knowing what to expect from people and what to give them in terms of being the prince that he is. He anticipated who would attack him in what disguise, and he was able to neutralize the situation quickly. Arunmozhi reaches Thanjavur only to realize something odd about the situation here as well, but because he is the prince, he will not be stopped from protecting his father, the Emperor.

Meanwhile, the Pandiyan rebels manage to infiltrate the palace, assisted by Nandini’s maid. They manage to get into the castle and get a discreet view of the Emperor. Mandakini followed the Pandiyans to the city to find out what the rebels were up to. The woman manages to get into the Emperor’s private space. Just when Sundara Chozhan recognized her, she put herself in the line of fire from the Pandiyan rebels. To protect the Emperor, she takes in all the arrows meant for the Emperor, and she instantly dies in his arms. Though Mandakini was a mute person, she was there for a reason that no one would ever know, including the Emperor. She may have come by only to have a last glance at the only man she ever loved and she sacrificed herself to save the same man. Arunmozhi was quick enough to realize the plot in action to assassinate his father. Arunmozhi kills all the rebels present in the castle.

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With Aditha alone in Kadambur, he has a final confrontation with Nandini about why she wants him here. He knows she has some sinister plan cooking up to harm him, but he would rather know about it from herself instead of being betrayed. Though Nandini does not reveal her plan to kill him, Aditha is quick to understand her motives and lets her know that he wants to die at her hands. Taken aback by his willingness to die, Nandini goes on the back foot, which is an indication of her undying love for him, which festered into hatred, but her love for him never died. Aditha, knowing he would never get out of this place alive, allows himself to be killed by her, which sends shockwaves across Nandini because she does not want him to die after all. Aditha lies dead because he asked her to kill him so that he could walk from this life peacefully. Nandini is quickly escorted out of the palace by her Pandiyan rebels. Despite all the hate Nandini had for Aditha, at the end of it, she could not come to kill the man she loved after all these years. Aditha would rather die by her hand than in the war. He was so hardened by war and the love he lost that it was okay for him to die at the hands of the only woman he loved. Nandini probably will not forgive herself for committing this crime. She also learns that her father was Veerapandiyan, who had raped her mother, and that she is a product of a sin. The man who she took care of, like her father, happened to be her biological father, and he never bothered to tell her. Another shock hits Nandini because all she was looking for was a father figure. Feeling betrayed by every side and traumatized by Aditha’s death, Nandini commits suicide by drowning herself.

Vandiyadevan was a witness to Aditha’s death. Adithya’s death sends the whole kingdom into a gloom of sadness and a trial that would determine who was responsible for his assassination. Vandiyadevan was initially made the culprit because he was found with the dead body at the scene of the crime. But officials from Kadambur come forward and confess the crimes they have committed. They blame a lot of their sinister plan on Nandini’s vicious greed for power. The trial is put on hold as the news of Rashtrakuta attacking the Chola kingdom reaches their ears, and soon there is a war to be fought. With Madhurantakan back to fight the war with Arunmozhi, the Cholas easily managed to defeat the Rashtrakutas again. Arunmozhi is all set to become the next Emperor of the empire, but he steps away from it and convinces everyone around him to make Madhurantakan the next Emperor because he is the rightful heir to the throne. Madhurantakan is finally declared the new Emperor, and Arun Mozhi will still lead the army like the soldier that he always was. The family managed to bring some happiness back to them after the passing of Aditha, but they are now at peace to see the kingdom intact, and no one allowed the kingdom to fall into a civil war. The ending scene of Ponniyin Selvan 2 has Arunmozhi leading the naval fleet of the Chola empire, who went on to be called Raja Raja Chola and is now historically considered one of the most powerful kings in the history of South India.

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Final Thoughts

Mani Ratnam, through Ponniyin Selvan 2, gave a face to all the lead characters from the book that will be etched in our memories for a long time. The scale at which the film is made must be applauded. Keeping the scale in mind, Mani Ratnam did not let the grandness of it distract the movie from its core, which is its storytelling. The story of Ponniyin Selvan 2 is impeccable, and the entire movie is all about the stories of plots and schemes being carried out. The narrative made the movie strong for a while until the screenplay became an issue. The screenplay felt a lot more disjointed as if there was no connection between the many storylines that were being carried out simultaneously. It became a tad bit hard to follow the screenplay and the timeline at which all of them were occurring. The direction was also affected by it. But the vision of the veteran filmmaker here cannot be questioned. He managed to pull off what many veteran directors couldn’t when it came to staging the story.

Bringing in a stellar cast who performed their hearts out, Vikram and Aishwarya’s chemistry will be talked about for a while. Jayam Ravi stands out amongst the giants like Vikram, Aishwarya, and Prakash Raj; as the prince who is probably smarter than he lets himself be. I wish Trisha had more to give in this screenplay because Ponniyin Selvan 2 felt more like a vehicle driven by Aishwarya and Vikram’s performances. AR Rahman’s soundtrack took a back seat here because most of the work was on the background score, which is excellent, as usual. Rahman does not disappoint. Mani Ratnam, Ravi Varman, B. Jeyamohan, and Elango Kumaravel have truly given us a magnum opus to cherish, which not just relies on grandeur but on storytelling as well. A good watch. A must-watch. 

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Ponniyin Selvan 2 is a Tamil-language film running at theaters near you.

Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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