Chhichhore music review: Pritam, Amitabh Bhattacharya's album fails to go beyond '90s nostalgia

Pratishruti Ganguly

Sep 04, 2019 12:32:47 IST

Nitesh Tiwari's upcoming campus drama, Chhichhore, is an unabashed nostalgia vehicle. From the perfectly bouffant hair to tucked-in plaid shirts, it seems like the director has taken a lot of care in creating an immersive world of an early 90s engineering college. Pritam, who has taken the baton to compose the music for the film, thus, has also attempted to align the compositions with an overall sepia-toned mood of the movie.

 Chhichhore music review: Pritam, Amitabh Bhattacharyas album fails to go beyond 90s nostalgia

A still from Chhichhore song Fikar Not. YouTube screengrab

The problem is it seems Pritam has sat down with one of those viral Facebook lists of "10 things you relate to if you are a 90s kid", and checked all the boxes out by the end of the album. While it can be argued that stereotypes are important markers of the decade, not every campus movie album needs to sound like a generic mishmash of every Bollywood campus song ever.

The flagbearer of this 90s run-off-the-mill fare is 'Woh Din'. Beginning with an acoustic guitar solo (which campus dude does not know how to play the guitar, duh!), the song goes onto reminiscing about them carefree days. The usually-dependable Amitabh Bhattacharya's lyrics are so generic that while you understand the protagonists are fondly remembering "woh kya din the" (those were the days), you fail to fathom why or what these folks are so nostalgic about. What do these marvellous nostalgia-inducing days consist of? The song sure does not answer that. Tushar Joshi's rendition of the song may vaguely remind one of Salim Merchant's hit song 'Aye Khuda' from yet another (no points for guessing) campus film Paathshaala (2010).

The other version of the song, sung by Arijit Singh, is melodically as good as it gets. But the credit for it probably goes solely to Singh's velvety voice, that can even make an alarm clock buzz like poetry.

The carnivalesque 'Fikar Notclosely follows the generic-masquerading-as-nuanced axiom of 'Woh Din'. The lyrics, again, will remind you of the catalogues of songs about 'living life to the fullest' such as 'Aane Chaar Aane' from Lage Raho Munna Bhai  but it is hard to miss its thematic, lyrical, and tonal similarity with 'Galti Se Mistake' from 2017 (also composed by Pritam).

KK's 'Kal Ki Hi Baat Hai' could have been a go-to nostalgia playlist staple — nestling somewhere between 'Yaaron Dosti Badi Hi Haseen Hai' and 'Yaad Aayenge Ye Pal', 'Kal Ki Baat Hai' could have been the only track with unrestrained use of '90s tropes you could get on board with. But Bhattacharya's profusion of words like yaad (memory), pyaar (love), and jazbaat (feelings) renders it rather unoriginal. However, the melody of 'Kal Ki Hi Baat Hai' is so breathtaking, and KK does such a brilliant job, you secretly hope that the song has at least a decade-long shelf life.

If 'Woh Din' heroes the acoustic guitar, electric guitar takes over the limelight in 'Control'. 'Control' is one of the most unique tracks in this album, where EDM-inspired music meets hilariously hard-hitting lyrics. Sung by Nakash Aziz, Manish J Tipu, Geet Sagar, Sreerama Chandra and Amitabh Bhattacharya, the number is a larger-than-life, theatrical track that borrows elements from acid rock. With such confessional lyrics as "Pratidwandi se haar, sabse bada dhikkar/ Naak kata kar ghar mat aana/ Kehta hai parivaar" (Losing to an opponent is the most insulting thing ever, family says don't embarrass us with your deeds), 'Control' seems to capture the pulse of confused youth quite well. However, I wish the background score wasn't as booming and all-encompassing, sometimes completely drowning out the witty lyrics.

Both the versions of 'Khairiyat' are quite good, but leave much to be desired. Again, Bhattacharya has injected all token sad words and phrases in the sad version of 'Khairiyat', including dooriyan (distance), tere bin (without you), tasveer (picture), and dard (pain). Frankly, the happy version is not quite different. The music seems a hair more upbeat, but the song contains such high doses of schmaltz it is rather difficult to discern the two without close comparison.

The album of Chhichhore is heartbreakingly disappointing — not because it has a slew of sub-par songs, but because each song bore the potential of being extraordinary in its own capacity. Instead, each song has one component that you feel has gone horribly amiss. Where Pritam shows his mastery, Bhattacharya's same ol' lyrics weighs it down (and vice versa). For a music lover, it is frustrating to listen to an album where every song feels like it missed the bull's eye by a smidgen, like a box full of firecrackers that promises a gala, but fizzles out before dusk.

Listen to the entire album here

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Updated Date: Sep 04, 2019 12:48:26 IST