Ever since we saw Vandiyathevan meet Kundavai on that boat in Kudanthai , we have all been enchanted by Aga Naga , so much so that there have been multiple cover versions of the song and various mash ups put out by singers , amateur singers and others , perfectly capturing that minute when a Chola princess felt something akin to love for a wandering Bana prince. That feeling of love takes the forefront in the longer version on Aga Naga in the Ponniyin Selvan soundtrack .
In a song where the piano , strings and flute flow like a lush stream of fresh water in Spring , Sakthishree Gopalan’s singing elevates Ilango Krishnan’s terrific lyric about a Chola princess finding a love as strong as her love for her motherland and nature. AR Rahman uses flutes and keys and strings to embellish the nadai pazhagidum siru aruvi , mugil kudithidum malai mugadu , kudai pidithidum nedu mara cherivu and the pani udhirthidum siru malar thuli , which all embody the mun-pani kaalam that is conducive for the lovers to meet secretively , in anticipation and happiness of the long awaited union.
In Aga Naga , Ilango has paid a stunning tribute to the Kurunji Pann of Sangam Literature , managing to stay true to its grammars and at the same time convey the secretive but strong love Kundhavai feels for Vanthiyathevan.
At first glance Aazhi Mazhai Kanna , the paasuram , is Aandal entreating the rain god to rush to the ocean , gather water into dark colored rain clouds and rain them down like Rama’s arrows , to grace good and evil alike without hiding his benevolence. But look a little deeper and it’s a woman entreating her beloved for affection And Harini perfectly captures Vaanathi’s feelings for Arunmozhi in this rendition and as the song ends , one can’t help but feel it was longer.
Ilayor Soodar is another instance where AR sets Kudavaiyil theerathanar’s purananuru lament to tune . In mullaiyum poothiyo , theerathanar asks the jasmine bushes of the ollaiyoor country as to why they bloomed when there’s no one to wear them or enjoy them due to valve saathan’s death. It’s a short lament that captures the extent of a country’s grief due to the untimely death of its ruler. AR keeps the tune and orchestration austere and stark , in contrast to the other compositions in this soundtrack.
For Chinnan Chiru Nilave , Ilango takes inspiration from tamil poet Subramanya Bharati’s Kannamma poems , only that instead of love and happiness , Ilango speaks of separation , sorrow , angst and a sense of emptiness the protagonist feels after losing the love of his life. Those who have read the book like yours truly feel that Ilango has written this from Aditya Karikalan’s point of view , given how the loss of Nandini tortures him to no end until his life meets an untimely end during a clandestine meeting with Nandini at Kadambur. Haricharan aces the straighter version of this song , but its Khatija Rahman that wows us with her rendition in the alternate version of the song where the keys and violins add to the mood and ambience of that secretive meeting at Kadambur and the unhappy events that followed.
The fifth part of Ponniyin Selvan is called Pinnacle of Sacrifice not for nothing and Kalki writes a terrific climax for his Chola saga at a coronation event planned for Arunmozhi , where in a stunning turn of events , Arunmozhi ends up crowning his uncle Sendhan Amudhan as Utthama Chola. Ilango writes the terrific Veera Raja Veera for this occasion , where he sings praises of the Chola ancestors of the past, requesting Raja Raja to take his rightful place at the throne and follow in his ancestor’s footsteps . The wordplay Ilango exhibits here is very reminiscent of master poet Vaali and I am sure that somewhere up above in heaven , Vaali is looking down at Ilango with pride and happiness. Set in Darbari Kanada and taking off on the Dhrupad Shiva Shiva , Veera features Shankar M in all his majesty accompanied by Chitra and Harini as they sing the Chola dynasty’s praises. I have heard the song a couple of hundred times by now and yet , every time I hear ” en tamizh vaazhga vaazha , veera chozham vaazhga , nattramizh vaazhga vaazhga , nallor desam vaazhga” I break out in goosebumps.
In words , music and form , Ponniyin Selvan 2 is superior to Ponniyin Selvan 1 as a soundtrack and meets the expectations a lot of die hard fans of the original literary work like yours truly – and that’s saying something as the first part was a truly fantastic soundtrack on its own.
I haven’t had time to loop the other versions of this soundtrack as much as I’d have liked to , but when you do get a chance , listen to Vijay Yesudas’s version of Chinnan Chiru from the Malayalam soundtrack and Mukti do and the version of Aazhi Mazhai in the Hindi Soundtrack – they will make you really happy.