Lucky charms in the form of actors / actresses exist in different contexts for movies. When it comes to quality music the obvious mascot that springs to mind is Emraan Hashmi and rightly so. But what about others? With soundtracks like Gangster, Woh Lamhe and Khoya Khoya Chand, Shiney Ahuja must surely rank up there right? Well he returns soon to the big screen for Kunal Shivdasani’s thriller Hijack so let’s see if he can bring some magic for the debutant composers Justin-Uday.
The composers clearly feel they are onto a winner with the first track Aksar which appears no less than FOUR times in the OST, that really is a sign for things to come! Let’s begin with the original version sung by K.K. and without a doubt Shiney’s lucky charm hits home in earnest. The breezy music is instantly likeable entailing a soft rock feel however you notice a very Pritam-esque structure to the arrangements which marks the composition down on originality (is it not ironic that one is criticizing somebody for copying the “copy-king” himself?). No two ways about the singing though as K.K. is in terrific form here and if he alone does not have you crooning to his alaaps then absolutely nothing will! The lyrics by Kumaar are the only other disappointing aspect. Otherwise Aksar is destined to rise to the top of your playlist and is a very promising start for Hijack!
Aksar Unplugged is a completely plausible alternative, in fact I would argue it’s BETTER than the original such is the impact of the hidden charms that lay beneath this version! The composers have truly unplugged the sounds of the original here to give us an extremely laid back and chilling number. The breezy instrumentation is replaced with a soft but equally melodic tune that is not hidden by heavy synth beats so instruments such as the guitar and percussion are more discernable to the ears.
What’s more we have the rare treat of comparing the vocals of two of the best singers in the industry for the same song! Mark my words when I say Shaan is AWESOME is in his rendition and whatever you say about which is the better singer (generally) between him and K.K. (everyone can argue but at the end of the day both are elite singers and your final choice will come down to personal preference), the fact is that here he performs better simply because the composition allows him to make better use of his subdued vocals. The impact is just that bit more meaningful, the alaaps that bit more touching… But all credit to Justin-Uday who get the selection perfect, KK for the breezy number and Shaan for this slower version.
Whilst taking longer to assimilate "Aksar Unplugged" is superb from start to finish, the pace is spontaneous to the mood, the singing intoxicating and the effect on the listener is incredibly satisfying…if you’re in the mood to relax, turn this up, select 'one track repeat' on your music player and watch the time fly!
The next version on the OST is Aksar Remix which is mediocre in its execution. Give it a listen but don’t expect to return many times. In fact I’d recommend you skip it altogether.
The final version is Aksar Sad which has an emotional Shaan rendering a short reprise. Unfortunately it’s just a short speech-like verse and is thus not one for repeated listening. But it's worth a try.
Dekh Dekh Club Remix is louder to the extent of being obtrusive. I would leave this one strictly for the clubs!
Koi Na Jaane, does redeem Justin-Uday to some extent even though it too carries a familiar ring to it but that maybe due to the unoriginal lyrics by Kumaar. As far as the composition is concerned, it reminisces a sad point in the movie looking ahead to a bleak future and that feeling of not being able to resurrect it…so there is despair and frustration here. Justin-Uday use subtlety in their execution to convey this feeling via a soft percussion play throughout with the intermittent use of a bowed string instrument and a piano, particularly fitting. The background chorus is equally effective.
Shilpa Rao has a brief part to play at the start but the song belongs entirely to K.K and his subdued but varied vocals. A fellow respected (PB) critic once compared the singer’s voice to a flute and that same comparison comes to mind when listening to him here, simple yet soothing. He alone justifies your attention to this otherwise enjoyable track.
The final original track, The Theme of Hijack is fairly enjoyable but will be much more interesting on screen. It’s an extremely zingy no holds barred type effort but lacks any real substance as an audio product without the context of the movie. The highlight is the singing by Suraj Jagan and Uday.
With only four full tracks, Justin-Uday rely heavily on "Aksar" and they turn it into a mini-soundtrack in itself! Thankfully it turns out to be an enjoyable effort thanks in the main to the varying alternatives particularly the “Unplugged” version. Otherwise you get the feeling that the music is not really an integral part of Hijack and whilst carrying some lucky charm for the soundtrack, Shiney Ahuja will undoubtedly have a greater impact on screen.
So in the run up to the release I recommend you listen to “Aksar” and particularly the “Unplugged” version. Satisfaction is guaranteed!