Hichki – Music Review (Bollywood Soundtrack)

Songs at the end.

When you look at Yash Raj’s musical portfolio, one of the most heartening aspects you will notice is how sparingly they have gone for multi composer soundtracks, opting instead to invest their confidence in a single composer (fast becoming a rarity in Bollywood these days), even the relatively untested ones on occasion. And on the rare occasion that they have gone multi composer, it has been for something like the bold and brilliant experiment Detective Byomkesh Bakshy which was a lesson in how multi composer soundtracks ought to be done. In Hichki too, YRF opt for a single composer, the young Punjabi singer-songwriter Jasleen Royal who also belongs to the “relatively untested” category, having composed just indie singles or 1-2 songs in Bollywood movies and never a complete album/soundtrack.

With a start mildly evocative of Wat Wat Wat (Tamasha), Oye Hichki follows a route Royal has taken in the past, a happy folksy tune backed by a Punjabi percussion-dominated arrangement. Except this one is not a wedding song, and hence the hangover is minimal. Also making the difference is Jaideep Sahni’s fine verse woven around the phrase hichki. Harshdeep Kaur leads this one with finesse, and a competent chorus supporting her. The oye hichki/dum hichki refrain peppered throughout the song (like a recurring bout of…hichki?) is a nice touch. The folk elements in the arrangement are stripped off in the more electronic reprise version titled Soul of Hichki where Kaur goes solo. The change in arrangement doesn’t work in the favour of the song though. Composer fuses folk and electronic elements to more entertaining results in Madamji Go Easy sung by Benny Dayal and David Klyton. Raj Shekhar pens what appears to be a tongue-in-cheek classroom song; though Klyton does not quite conform to the theme in his Tamil rap.

Raj Shekhar also writes lyrics for the motivational Khol De Par that features Arijit Singh on vocals. Musically there is nothing exceptional going on here, but it engages while it lasts. The composer creates another more effective pick-me-up in Phir Kya Hai Gham. The breezy track has an interesting melody, set in a lower scale for most part, rising up around the Phir Kya Hai Gham hook. Shilpa Rao sounds fab handling the base notes, and the backing vocalists do an equally splendid job with their harmonies. Royal herself gets behind the mic for Teri Daastaan, and it is her déjà vu inducing rendition that bogs down the neatly arranged pensive piece (written by Neeraj Rajawat). Which is why the tune works a lot better in the slower instrumental version titled Naina’s Theme. Royal restricts her vocal contribution here to just humming, and that is beautifully employed here.

While Jasleen Royal does need to do something about the repetitiveness in her songs, especially with her singing, Hichki is definitely a step up for the lady as a composer. And happy to see another soundtrack without any old song remixes, then again that is another hallmark of Yash Raj soundtracks. Just wish they were also prompt with crediting the background musicians and technicians.

Music Aloud Rating: 3/5

Top Recos: Oye Hichki, Naina’s Theme, Phir Kya Hai Gham

This review first appeared in the Mumbai edition of The Hindu.

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