“Airlift” movie poster.

Film: Airlift

Label: T-Series

Music: Amaal Mallik

Lyrics: Kumaar

Additional song composed by: Ankit Tiwari

This one’s a pleasant surprise in many aspects. Firstly, after ages, we have a T-Series production with a SINGLE composer — the additional song was essentially a kind of re-creation, and maybe Amaal Mallik was not the right talent to handle this pedestrian job.

Two, it is heartening to see that even an Akshay Kumar home production (he produces the film with T-Series) has a single composer. Three, there is a single lyricist — Kumaar, who normally “writes” all the bilge you get to hear in the name of trendy vulgarity and other usually Punjabi-ized item numbers. With the brief being better situations and a serious subject, Kumaar comes up with heartfelt and meaningful work like “Soch Na Sake” and “Tu Bhoola Jise.”

In fact, we have only minor grouse against this album — the credits on the inlay follow a Western pattern, as in how credits are given on iTunes. For example, the KK-rendered latter song is billed as “Amaal Mallik Feat.KK” when Mallik is only doing the backing vocals. But why nitpick about this packaging when the content is good?

Mallik, arguably the most promising of the music makers who have appeared since 2010 (the second decade of the new millennium) is in supple form, showing his predilection for strong compositions unlike his immediate contemporaries. He keeps it simple and soulful — and that’s actually a difficult thing to achieve.

Arijit Singh is brought into perfect caressing mode in the affectionate “Soch Na Sake” and we loved the carefully integrated affection in his voice. Tulsi Kumar, as the co-singer in the lead track (Singh has a solo version as well), is competent.

There is a change in mood with the Divya Kumar-Brijesh Shandilya number “Mere Nachan Nu.” This is one of those Punjabi numbers that remind us of the nice Punjabi folk we used to hear in older songs (till the early ‘90s) that we still cherish — placid and vibrant.

The Ankit Tiwari contribution (as singer and composer) “Dil Cheez Tujhe De Di” tributes the ‘90s Arabic pop anthem “Didi” with a twist. To Tiwari’s credit, he creates haunting interludes.

But by far the standout song on this album is “Tu Bhoola Jise,” a towering rendition by the inimitable KK, and fabulously written by Kumaar and composed by Mallik. KK’s command over the octaves as he moves from low to high and back shows that singing — especially PLAYBACK singing with all its emotional expressions — is not the easy gold-digging game it seems for the crooners coming in from pop/rock/whatever backgrounds.

As a song, I would rank it as one of the three most memorable patriotic film numbers of the millennium along with another KK-rendered beauty (with Shaan) “Mujhe Ishq Hai Meri Sarzameen Se” (“Zameen”/2003) and “Dhuan” (“D-Day”/2013).

And never mind the popularity quotient of “Soch Na Sake” — “Tu Bhoola Jise” is the true ace that (air)lifts this score.

Rating: 3.5/5

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