There seems to be an unwritten rule in the Indian film industry that stellar composers should lose their groove while working with big stars.

After Vishal-Shekhar’s dull soundtrack for Salman Khan-starrer Tiger Zinda Hai and Santhosh Narayanan’s underwhelming score in Vijay’s Bairavaa comes Amit Trivedi’s lacklustre turn in Akshay Kumar’s January 26 release Pad Man.

The otherwise brilliant Trivedi turns milquetoast for R Balki’s movie, which is loosely based on the achievements of low-cost sanitary pads manufacturer Arunachalam Muruganantham. The composer seems to have dialed down his creative spirit to produce an average soundtrack with the staple ingredients – an Arijit Singh love song, a title track celebrating the hero, and an inspiring pop-rock number – that anybody with lesser talent could have come up with.

Aaj Se Teri starts off with a mellow tune on the nadaswaram, before the vocals kick in. What follows is a restrained and safe Arijit Singh song meant to establish the romance between Kumar’s Laxmikant Chauhan and his wife Gayatri (Radhika Apte).

Aaj Se Teri, Padman.

The title track, sung by Mika Singh, celebrates the unconventional superhero that is Pad Man. The hookline is undeniably catchy. But the song only works within the context of the film and does not stand on its own merit.

The Padman Song, Padman.

Trivedi is on home turf with Hu Ba Hu, which he has also sung, and Saale Sapne, with vocals by Mohit Chauhan. The composer has masterfully belted out pop-rock tracks several times in the past (Hulchul Si from Dev D, Aazaadiyan from Udaan, Kinare from Queen) and is just as pleasant in Hu Ba Hu. Laced with a mid-tempo electronic beat, the song has a short memorable passage that follows every time the beat drops.

Saale Sapne would have fit right into the hypothetical B-side of the Udaan album. The most interesting element of the song is a very short guitar solo that stops just when the song starts to gain steam.

The album’s final track, Sayaani, is the most unremarkable. This song about a group of women celebrating the coming of age of a young girl is the very definition of functional film music – it may serve the scene, but within the album, it is just a filler.

Pad Man jukebox.