Skip everything in the Uri: The Surgical Strike album and head for the Ride of the Valkyries-gone-Bollywood track, Jagga Jiteya. The opening tune, played on what sounds like an angry and urgent-sounding bugle, stays on as a constant refrain. Over this, Sachdev throws in heavy bass, and later adds a synthetic beat. With just these three elements as a support to Daler Mehndi and rapper Dee MC’s vocals, Jagga Jiteya, besides being a superb song to pump iron to, also becomes an example of the kind of minimalist and contemporary electronic music we don’t often hear in Hindi films.
Aditya Dhar’s film revisits the September 29, 2016 attacks the Indian Army carried out on Pakistani terrorists across the Line of Control. The film stars Vicky Kaushal in the lead role and is set for a January 11 release. Sachdev’s soundtrack has a tune for all the usual sequences a war film could have, such as the training montage or the climactic call-to-arms moment. What adds life to the album is Sachdev’s approach of moving as far as possible from the sonic universe created by Anu Malik for JP Dutta’s films.
The aggression inevitably present in the lyrics of a war film’s songs does not get echoed in the music. The production is a flab-free treat for the ears.
Take the song Behe Chala. Raj Shekhar’s lines for this haunting, slow-paced tune (“Qatra qatra main tujhe chunta raha, qatra qatra tu bhi bikhar gayi”) hints at a complicated relationship at which one looks back at from a distance. Like in Jagga Jiteya, there is minimal production on the track, which allows the beautiful melody to breathe. Two acoustic guitars run parallel to each other over the softest of percussion, producing an atmosphere of sweeping melancholy. Full marks to singer Yasseer Desai, who sounds a lot like Papon.
The album’s lead single, Challa (Main Lad Jaana), is a power-packed fusion of rock (guitar, bass, drums) and bhangra (dhol, tumbi). It is one of those pounding let’s-show-’em songs that make sense in a war film or a sports film. Singer Romy (Sahiba, Hallaa), who is turning out to be a dependable Sukhwinder Singh replacement, aces the track. On bass guitar is the virtuoso Mohini Dey, who doesn’t get to do much, sadly.
Both Jigra and Manzar Hai Ye Naya have Sivamani on percussion. But listening to them, you wouldn’t know that this album has stars like him or Dey as session musicians. A very interesting rhythm section, with guitars by Youngmin Kin, makes Jigra moderately enjoyable. Manzar Hai Ye Naya starts off like an advertising jingle for an SUV climbing up a treacherous hill in slow motion. The song picks up in the end because of the percussion, made to sound like its being played live at a distance, and a lovely tune played on the shehnai by Raju Dhumal.
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