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Home»News»Ponniyin Selvan: AR Rahman and Mani Ratnam got the best out of me, says lyricist Ilango Krishnan»

Ponniyin Selvan: AR Rahman and Mani Ratnam got the best out of me, says lyricist Ilango Krishnan

Ponniyin Selvan is based on celebrated Tamil author Kalki’s novel of the same name. Mani Ratnam's adaptation (PS-1) will be released on September 30, this year.

  • Team OTTplay

Last Updated: 08.41 PM, Aug 03, 2022

Ponniyin Selvan: AR Rahman and Mani Ratnam got the best out of me, says lyricist Ilango Krishnan
Mani Ratnam-AR Rahman; Ilango Krishnan/Twitter

Ponni Nadhi, the first single from Mani Ratnam's Ponniyin Selvan-I, received over 9.9 million views on YouTube. The song has received critical acclaim for its visuals, music, and lyrics. Says lyricist Ilango Krishnan, who had written it, "I breathed a huge sigh of relief when Mani sir responded, congratulating me that the response to the song has been positive."

The folk song is an ode to the Cauvery aka Ponni river and the Chola Kingdom, as Ilango recalled the day he was asked to write the song. "Jeyamohan, who wrote the dialogues for the Ponniyin Selvan franchise, attempted to contact me, but I was not near my phone. He had texted me if I was interested in writing lyrics for songs in the film. Then a meeting with Mani sir and AR Rahman sir was arranged in 2020. Mani sir informed me that he had reviewed my previous works, including my poems, speeches on YouTube, and my blog. I was speechless."

Ilango Krishnan had to revisit some Tamil classics to incorporate some lesser-known Tamil words for the introduction number. "I've read Ponniyin Selvan a lot of times. However, for this, I read KA Neelakanta Sastry's book on the Cholas and reread Silapathikaram," he adds. Eventually, he says, it took a month for him to write Ponni Nadhi. "Other songs on the album were written in less than two hours. But, Ponni Nadhi took its time and I succeeded in my fourth attempt. At that time, I didn't know this would be Vanthiyathevan's introduction. There had been moments when Mani sir and Rahman sir stood by me and watched as I wrote lyrics. I felt like a poor kid at the exam hall!"

The lyricist said he was a tad nervous, because of the expectations around Ponniyin Selvan. "But Rahman sir and Mani sir made sure I was comfortable, and they got the best out of me. The film is not only a dream project for Mani Ratnam but also Tamil cinema as a whole!"

Given that the story is set in the 10th century, what was the approach he had toward the song? "We didn't want classical poetry because the tune was folk-ish. However, in appropriate places, we opted for classical Tamil."

How does it feel to be a part of the iconic film? "I consider myself fortunate to be a part of Ponniyin Selvan because I have had the opportunity to work with people like Mani sir and Rahman sir, both of whom are extremely understanding. I work for a newspaper, and they never called me during my office hours. Even at work, our management thought it was fantastic that one of their employees was working on such a prestigious project."