Leveraging the May Day weekend, Mani Ratnam’s Ponniyin Selvan 2 has made Rs 200 crores in the worldwide box office, ever since its release on April 28. The sequel, which follows the lives of Chola siblings Kundavai (Trisha), Aditya Karikalan (Vikram) and Arulmozhi Varman (Jayam Ravi) and their struggle to retain their throne against the schemes of Pazhuvoor princess Nandini (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), has made impressive numbers at the overseas box office, which trade experts see as an achievement by itself.
Of the 200 crore, the film is said to have made almost Rs 100 crore in the overseas market. This is the biggest success of Ponniyin Selvan, says producer and film historian G Dhananjayan. “It is a phenomenal number, especially considering the overseas market. In Tamil cinema, never has a film done such a number overseas in four days. In a country like the USA, the film has made around four million dollars. Many films do one or two million in lifetime sales, and this film did it in four days. The numbers are almost 50-50 between domestic and overseas markets. This shows the kind of market expansion that is happening in Tamil cinema among global markets.” A wide release, curiosity among fans to see the epic conclude and expensive ticket prices in the US have made this feat possible, he adds.
Industry expert Sreedhar Pillai points out that this phenomenon is unique to a few people in the industry. “Mani Ratnam is better in the overseas market rather than his home ground market. Like Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan and Vijay, Mani Ratnam enjoys a huge fandom among the Tamil diaspora. He has made around 10 million dollars with PS-2.”
But that said, the sequel is still slightly behind when compared to the first part, which was released last September. If PS-2 is a superhit, PS-1 was a blockbuster, Pillai adds. “The early lead clearly indicates that PS-1 is ahead of PS-2. My theory is that PS-1 was a character introduction and had a little more entertainment factor. The curiosity around the film was huge. On the other hand, PS-2 is more academic and intellectual. But I loved the movie and Mani Ratnam's craft for storytelling shows in the film.” The weekend collections of the film’s Hindi dubbed version, on the other hand, is said to have made Rs 8 crore, marginally higher than PS-1 Hindi’s weekend collections of Rs 7.6 crores.
It is a challenge to put together such a big project with a native subject at its centre, Dhananjayan points out. “Why is this subject not doing big numbers in North India? Why did Baahubali 2 do well and not this? Baahubali had nothing to do with history and was completely fantastical. When you mount a story on history like what PS did with real Tamil dynasties such as Chera, Chola and Pandya, it automatically becomes a native subject in the eyes of people. So, it becomes a niche for the north Indian audiences.” The universe of Ponniyin Selvan, which is based on Kalki Krishnamurthy’s cult Tamil novel series of the same name, also co-stars Jayaram, Prakash Raj, Aishwarya Lekshmi and Sobhita Dhulipala.