Music composer Pritam has a 1:1 ratio of good albums versus bad albums in his discography. Between Jagga Jasoos and Jab Harry Met Sejal, Pritam rolled out Tubelight, for instance. Pritam’s latest soundtrack for Nitesh Tiwari’s college campus-set Chhichhore is, like Tubelight, a drag. It is as bad as his soundtrack for Tiwari’s Dangal was good.

One day, a soundtrack for a film set on a college campus will not feature the acoustic guitar. Not today. The acoustic guitar, a beautiful instrument, is presented in its most boring form in Woh Din and Fikar Not.

Fikar Not aims to be a carnivalesque track describing the carefree days of college, but even at only three minutes, it feels long. That said, Nakash Aziz has a captivating voice and the hook is fine, so the song gets pass marks.

Fikar Not, Chhichhore (2019).

What doesn’t make sense is workhorse lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya’s laziness with Woh Din. Again, it’s one of those good-ol’-days campus songs, but Bhattacharya’s choice of words is strange: “Bigde huwe insaan the, shaitan ki santaan the... karna mana tha kaam jo, humne kiya har kaam woh.” Wow, such rebels.

The overused device of connecting memories with photo albums (“yaadon ke purane album”) isn’t Bhattacharya’s biggest crime – he had even written the track Yaadon Ki Album in 2011 for My Friend Pinto. Bhattacharya picks a most tedious device to suggest time: “Yaad hai filmon ke puraane, RD Burman ke woh gaane.” Fail.

Woh Din, Chhichhore (2019).

There are two versions of Woh Din. One is by Tushar Joshi. The other, by Arijit Singh, feels better. Is he really that good a singer, or is it our Pavlovian reaction to the National Film Award winner’s voice? Or are other singers trying but failing to sing like him, and so the original sounds best?

Singh, as always, also gets the album’s best composition. Khairiyat isn’t a great song, but is the best by this album’s standards, Khairiyat is the kind of melodramatic ballad that suited Singh in his early years, but he does need to take a break from them.

Khairiyat, Chhichhore (2019).

Bhattacharya regains his mojo with Control, even though the overproduction makes it hard to focus on the words. The opening lines go “Pratidwandi se haar, sabse bada dhikkar / Naak kata kar ghar mat aana / Kehta hai parivaar”. (“Nothing’s worse than losing to a rival / the family says don’t return home if you embarrass yourself”). The song feels like a lesser version of Jame Raho from Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s soundtrack for Taare Zameen Par (2007).

Control, Chhichhore (2019).

Finally, there’s KK. If there’s a possibility of any song living beyond the film’s release, it is his Kal Ki Hi Baat Hai. KK has a voice that cannot be ignored, and he is in Yaad Aayenge Ye Pal mode here. Though the song suffers from dull lyrics of the Sameer variety, KK’s voice makes the album redeemable for a few minutes.

Chhichhore (2019) soundtrack.

Also read:

Chart-busting composer Pritam is ready to retire. Will Bollywood let him?

When the campus is a playground: What Bollywood students are singing about

You want a hit ballad for your movie but don’t have Arijit Singh’s dates. Who you gonna call?