Composer Jasleen Royal’s album for the upcoming Rani Mukerji film Hichki is like a hot mug of coffee with milk and sugar that is never too bland or too out-there. The seven-track album is a brisk, light-hearted affair with some idiosyncratic flourishes, thus retaining a fair amount of individuality.
Hichki stars Mukerji as a school teacher who tries to rein in a group of slum-dwelling troublemakers while fighting Tourette’s syndrome on a day-to-day basis. Directed by Siddharth P Malhotra, the film will be released on March 23.
With the romantic drama Baar Baar Dekho (2016) and a Yash Raj Films production under her belt, Royal has carved a niche for herself as a composer of commercial Hindi film music. Her music, in spite of having a distinct personality, is still accessible to the average consumer of radio hits, unlike the work of fellow female composers such as, say, Sneha Khanwalkar.
Hichki’s best songs are oddly subdued even when the accompanying instrumentation gets boisterous. The title track, Oye Hichki, for instance, is a melodious composition that marries Harshdeep Kaur’s beautiful vocals with Nucleya-like street percussion. Despite being heavy on drums and dhols, the track is never harsh on the ear. Oye Hichki is a winner by every measure and may have a shelf life beyond the film’s release. It also has the album’s least forgettable lyrics by Jaideep Sahni.
The song is remixed as another track, Soul of Hichki, which, as the name suggest, preserves the soul of the original albeit with some electronic flourishes.
Madamji Go Easy, featuring Tamil rap by David Klyton and vocals by Benny Dayal, is also heavy on local percussion that is never obtrusive. Royal’s songs also feature very smooth interludes, which is particularly noticeable in this song as it features some unique shifts in tempo.
The Arijit Singh song here is Khol De Par – not a romantic ballad but one of those sprightly uplifting soft rock anthems Amit Trivedi is known for. It is a decent enough composition with a memorable hookline.
Royal sings for Teri Dastaan, an emotionally heavy song that charts the journey of the film’s lead character, Naina. Royal’s unique wispy school-girl voice does have its charm, but does not fit a song that requires gravitas.
A similar song that follows, Phir Kya Hai Gham, features vocals by Shilpa Rao, who might have done a better job with Teri Dastaan. Neither song is much to write home about.
Hichki’s album is not a game-changer but carries a fair share of promise. Royal has much to provide in the musical landscape of Hindi cinema, and Hichki should provide a strong kickstart to her career as a solo composer.