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One doesn’t expect to come across a lot of songs in a film that has been designed as an action thriller. However, in the past, there have been many action films that have had popular soundtracks. When you look at the number of tracks listed on the album of ‘Attack’, an action thriller featuring John Abraham, Jacqueline Fernandez and Rakul Preet in principal roles, you get the feeling that this could be another actioner where the makers put in a lot of thought behind creating the soundtrack.

The man behind this album, along with the background score of the film, is Shashwat Sachdev. Three years back, Shashwat had put together the soundtrack of ‘Uri: The Surgical Strike’, a film which was in a similar space as ‘Attack’. The young composer had won the National Film Award for Best Music Director (Background Score) for that film. The lyrics have been penned by Kumaar who had collaborated with Shashwat on a couple of songs on ‘Uri: The Surgical Strike’.

The opening track on the album is “Ik Tu Hai”, a slow-burning romantic number that has multiple layers which unravel themselves slowly and take you by surprise at multiple junctures. The first one minute of the song gives you the impression of it being a run-of-the-mill romantic song. The lyrics, the tune and Jubin’s rendition, all sound very familiar. However, as a sitar piece kicks in at 1:23, you realize Shashwat might have done a few things differently here. At the 2:15 mark, the song turns into a rock-qawalli and then, you cannot help but marvel at the kind of dexterity Shashwat brings to the fore as a composer and a music producer. When you play the song again, you see it in a completely different light.

Shashwat has an affinity for Punjabi folk which is evident by the fact that he keeps using their references in his compositions. He did that in ‘Uri: The Surgical Strike’ (“Jagga Jiteya”) and one saw glimpses of Punjabi folk in some of his songs for ‘Phillauri’. In this album, two songs are based on Punjabi folk songs. The first one is “Main Nai Tuttna” which is based on the popular folk song “Sarke Sarke Jandiye”. While composer Vishal Mishra has rendered several soft romantic songs as a singer for other composers, Shashwat gives him a high-pitched song here. Vishal excels as a singer and his exuberant energy enhances the track significantly.

While “Main Nai Tuttna” was based on a Punjabi folk song, with “Akh Kashni” Shashwat chooses to reimagine the popular folk track with a new-age orchestral structure but without changing a single phrase from the original. Surbhi Yadav, whose voice reminds one of Rashmeet Kaur, does a very good job as a vocalist. Nakul Chugh, who makes an entry halfway through the song, lends adequate support. The electronic arrangements are very impressive and complement the tune well.

“Chal Hatt” reminds one of the kind of soundscape Shashwat had created for ‘Uri: The Surgical Strike’. Driven by a heavy techno sound, it has been designed as a rap song but there are many other elements to it as well. The rap portions are interesting but it is the overall sound of the track that stays with you after you have finished listening to it. Going by the kind of lyrics (Girish Nakod) it has, one expects the track to be played at a point in the film where a lot of action is happening.

The second (and the last) romantic number in the film is “Phir Se Zara”. The song has the same team (Shashwat Sachdev, Kumaar and Jubin Nautiyal) as “Ik Tu Hai” but the two songs are different from each other in several ways. For one, “Ik Tu Hai” was a happy romantic song and this one has a melancholic feel to it. Shashwat composes an engaging tune and layers it with a drum-and-bass sound. The only Indian instrument used in the song is the sarangi which can be heard at the 1:41 mark. The lyrics, written by Kumaar, are average. There is an alternate version of “Phir Se Zara” in the album which has been sung well by Shashwat.

There are a couple of tracks in the album that one expects to be used in the film as background pieces. Rap is a dominant musical element in most of these songs. Perhaps, Shashwat felt that the energy of a rap song would complement the high-octane action sequences in the film very well. The album concludes with the rendition of the “Durga Gayayri Mantra” by Shreya Jain and Nakul Chugh.

Shashwat Sachdev has used various musical influences and played around with different genres. The result is an album which sounds very interesting and works to a great extent. Like the tracks he has produced in the past, Shashwat does a lot of brave experiments with the orchestral arrangements of the songs. One really looks forward to see how each of these distinctive music pieces has been used in the film. The find of the album is Shreya Jain who shows her versatility by singing the fast-paced “Bomb!” and the “Durga Gayatri Mantra” with effortless ease.

 Side-note: In today’s times, a lot of composers put their name as one of the singers on the songs composed by them even when they have not lent their voice to it. Perhaps, it is done to ensure that their name pops up on the credits when their songs are played on streaming platforms. However, most of these composers (Meet Bros, Sohail Sen, Mithoon et al) add ‘ft./featuring’ before their name. On this particular album, Shashwat has been credited as a singer (and not a featuring artist) on all of the songs. He has lent his voice to just one track.