Coke Studio at MTV – Hits & Misses

Posted: June 18, 2011 by moifightclub in music, songs & videos
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Not sure why but I was expecting a Harmony kind of show. Remember that musical show on Sony/Set Max? But Coke Studio at MTv went to the other extreme and started without any warm-up. It opened with a jugalbandi pitching a bollywood/popular name with a folk (unknown) singer and followed the same pattern for the entire show.  And there was more jazz with every possible camera angle covered and fast cuts to show that they have it all. What i missed was thehraav. Leave the camera angles and cuts outside the music, let the singers do the jazz. Introduce the singers to us with solo numbers. Give that slow warm-up, let us absorb and then built the tempo with jugalbandi. At least that’s the pattern which every music or anything that’s musical, follows. Also, can we please have subtitles for the songs in other languages. Some of us are insane when it comes to lyrics.

Aha, that’s just the intro. This post is by Rohit, for whom music is lifeline and whose middle name these days is Coke Studio. I don’t know anyone who follows it with so much passion and enthusiasm. Don’t think even MTV was so excited about the show as Rohit was. Read on..

This is not a review. It can never be.

This is a chance to showcase an opinion. If you have one, please use the ‘comment’ box. Would love to hear it.

Being one who drives the car from a longer route because the favorite song hasn’t ended yet, it was a blessing when I came across Coke Studio Pakistan last year.

Any new sound from Pakistan has an extra oomph attached to it, and this is quite accentuated by the fact that our filmmakers have been using the Pakistani artists in our films a lot.

The first thing which struck me about the Coke Studio was its setting. A small but cozy arrangement of musicians with latest (And most of the times traditional) musical instruments weaved nicely in the presence of the vocal performer. The second was the lighting. Dull but not sad, and at times, the spotlight on the vocal lead. Looks like a concert, sounds like a studio, I thought to myself.

Then exploring began.

Most of the songs in Coke Studio Pakistan centered around Punjabi/Arabic/Urdu or a combination of these. That’s not entirely, is it? The artist set had a collective feel to it. You had folk singers from Balochistan and then you had new age ‘rockstars’ like Atif Aslam and Ali Zafar. Less popular guys with the popular ones did make a lot of impact (especiallly if you hear the likes of Season 1 rendition of Ali zafar’s allah hu along with Tufail Ahmed).

The obvious reaction was – Man! when are they coming to India? With the excessive incredible India overdose, I thought it would be amazing to see the various sounds we have in our beautiful country going at it with the popular guys to begin with.

Then I went to Coke Studio India sets.

Of course the expectations I had were at least 20 feet above the sky. There was a lot of positivity flowing in the air with artists trying variations to get it right…and the when they got it right, they tried to better it.

But why are they singing Bollywood numbers?

Especially when I heard Benny Dayal and Suzanne singing ‘kanchi rey kanchi rey’, I thought am I missing something? One reason that I could decipher was that they are changing the treatment of the song and giving the audience a familiar song to chew upon as they try to capture the mind space of the populists (because the other loyalists are already in place). The second and the final reason which came to my mind was that may be they will attempt to fuse a folk song and its ‘commercial’ counterpart in one composition and give us a hang of it.

This was proven right when the India version premiered with the folk and commercial composition interwoven in a beautiful ‘O mahi rey‘ by the folk singer (Mano) and Shaan (who should stop swaying on the mic with a smile. When you are ‘passionate’ you don’t get a smile…you just ‘be’)

Coke Studio at MTV

Of course there were hits and misses.

Am not sure why the lighting was going (at times) mad like it was a dance floor, and some camera movements (especially in the otherwise brilliant Tochi Raina and Magati song) had me confused.

Shankar mahadevan and Khagen Gogoi couldn’t touch me as yet. KK and Sabri brothers did strike a chord and that’s largely due to the fact that they were singing an old classic (chadhta suraj). Watching KK, I couldn’t help but feel that he is too ‘aware’ of his surroundings. Nope! not done. The only thing the coke studio in Pakistan singers/performers are aware is the microphone in front and NOTHING else.

Tochi, Kailash Kher, Chinnaponu, Bondu and Harshdeep Kaur managed to hit the right chord because none of these guys were aware of how their videos would come across when millions of fans would see it on youtube. Yes. That is passion. Hope we get to see that more in the forthcoming episodes…


Coke Studio at MTV happened. Then loads of variations of the same happened tonight. People came out with loaded guns to shoot and tear it apart.

Let me try and organise my thoughts before ‘judging’ (Indian Idol isshtyle! by the way last I saw Abhijit sawant, he was doing comedy for a living. This is besides the point)

Criticism 1. Lot of bollywood influence – Hmm. This is true. I guess the endeavor is towards presenting us with the sound of our country from every nook and corner, and to mingle it with someone who is well known (bolly singers, I tell u!) and that’s not entirely bad. At least now we can bash the bolly singers better because they have their regional/folk contemporaries performing right next to them? The show opened with Shaan. But was it just Shaan? Who was singing along with him? Don’t google it. Also, when you are googling, ask yourself if you would have waited to see Coke Studio at MTV had there been 2 unknown singers going at it? (Remember the Pakistani Coke Studio had 2-3 familiar singers who were termed ‘besura‘ in India?)

Criticism 2 – Horrendous lighting, bad camera angels – Hmmm. This I will agree to. The exquisite performance by Tochi Raina (And Magathi, I guess) & Kailash Kher (with the tamil singer) was particularly spoiled by wayward camera movement and dinchak lighting.

Criticism 3 – A wanna be show – Hmmm. Aren’t we going on an overkill by expecting a little too much and benchmarking the first one hour episode against a show which is in it’s 3rd year? All of us spoiled Maggi when we first prepared, no? Anyway.

Criticism 4 – Couldn’t touch the soul – I guess it will continue to be this way for sometime. We are enamored by, and look forward to a lot of ‘Allah hu‘ like songs from Indian version from the first day. What is obviously clear is that Coke Studio at MTV will first premier all the ‘sounds’ from all parts of country (along with a popular voice) and then run a riot of ‘placing’ and ‘innovating’ within these genres more effectively.

It is a first step and I don’t say that Coke Studio at MTV is ‘Holier than thou’. We need to be a little patient and am sure that the Indian version will give us more reasons to smile than to crib about.

By the way my favorite from the night were Tochi Raina’s Mera yaar basenda mere wich and Harshdeep Kaur’s Hoo.

Wait a second! The above songs resemble (in theme and treatment) with the Coke Studio Pakistan version. Isn’t it?

May be that’s why….

(PS – And how do you explain this?)

Rohit blogs at

  1. jhonmoy says:

    Not a fan of Shaan and a nice post, BUT ‘When you are ‘passionate’ you don’t get a smile…you just ‘be’’

    Really? happiness shows, not Shaan maybe but I don’t really want to get into naming gawd-awesome performers smiling their way to a passion roused trance

    • Rohit says:

      Thanks a lot for the feedback buddy. I may have generalized a little too much but I could see Shaan a little too aware of the camera…hence the outburst

      • jhonmoy says:

        yeah Shaan was practically making love to the camera.. just that i was watching chinnaponnu at that time and boy has she got a smile😀

  2. eizza says:

    I like the ‘review!” Yea, I don’t think people should write off Coke Studio MTV after watching the 1st episode…lets see what they bring to the table next time. Meanwhile, Pak Coke Studio tomorrow!! yay!

  3. Surya says:

    i too agree with you that Coke Strudio @ MTV should be given some time. But you cannot make an exquisite musical show by shooting it in the same way as a telivision serial. You need to invest time and practice which were clearly missing in this episode. Harshdeep’s song was the only “remarkable” in the episode. And Toci Raina just can’t sing, ..his voclas are so limited and doesn’t hit the right notes.

    • Rohit says:

      Cheers buddy! Yes. I still feel Tochi has a lot of range but he is not exploiting it yet. Lets see!

    • techrahul says:

      First things first; This is one of the most balanced piece I have read on Coke Studi India. Takes both the positives & negatives into consideration.
      Now coming to what I liked. Well I agree with you. Yaar Basinda & Hoo win hands down. Also, I loved ‘Vethalai’. I was amazed to see the way Chinnaponnu performed. She not really has a ‘celeb’ status but she clearly over shadowed Kailash Kher in the performance.
      The rest 3 performances I somehow couldn’t enjoy it. And you nail it when you say “A WANNABE SHOW”. Couldn’t agree more. They should not try to achieve something in it’s first year that Pakistani version achieved over a span of 4 years. Baaki to I am optimistic we have *huge* talent in the country. Amazing folk singers. I am sure and I hope it gets better and better.
      And keep writing man. Cheers !🙂

      • @Rohwit says:

        Hi Rahul!

        Chinnaponnu might not be a popular ‘celeb’ but she had confidence oozing out like anything!

        Am hopeful like you that we will come around and it will rock…time my friend…time!🙂


  4. Nimue says:

    What i liked : Tochi Raina , Kailash kher , Harshdeep’s Hoo and a bit of bichua ! Not to mention the energry of the tamil singer with kailash kher [ Sorry i can not spell her name correctly ]

    What i did not like : No introduction of the artist and a sample of his early works . too many songs .. i really wish they could have fed me few songs less and a repeat too so i could get a han of them .. Its good to have regional songs to present but then give us time to at least get the music sorted in head .. One reason i like Pak coke studio is that most song lyrics can be easily recalled so reproduced easily in humming , words , recco n all ..

    Well, waiting to hear few on coke studio @ MTV songs a few more time ..

    • Rohit says:

      @Nimue – The intro part doesn’t exist in cokestudio at pakistan as well if i am right. Hope you did see the clipping and some lines about the performance which they aired just before the presentation? They will come around am sure.

      • ladynimue says:

        But do we need to keep it same way even in India ?? Pak version has so less regional stuff .. why so much in India ? Agree we have so many more languages and styles to bring to the masses but do we need to do it all so soon , so fast ?? Can the behind the scenes come before the show please . I can relate to who is gonna sing what better that way !😀

  5. zeekhan says:

    A perfect combination i can say indeed…coke studio have the effects and echos that no other studio can produce and when it comes up on mtv then the fun doubles.

  6. Prats says:

    Every word by Rohit is true. Coke Studio here was a miss. Earlier, when after the show, people started tweeting negative views about the Indian version, and comparing it with Pakistani version, I was like , “Hey why are you criticising so much! Let’s celebrate music, and not a show!”. But deep inside, I know, the soul of music was sacrificed for the commercial purpose. I know who killed music. It’s MTV. Coz MTV is to music, what KFC is to chicken.

    • Rohit says:

      Hahaha! Aisa mat boliye sir ji. MTV will get it right. MTV is just airing it. The people behind have already got the message I can assure you of that.

      • Surya says:

        I think Prats should be given a gift hamper for inventing such a marvellous one liner :”z MTV is to music, what KFC is to chicken” ROTFL can’t stop😄

  7. buddy….i can not bring myself to disagree with you on any of the counts u raise here…sharing the same love for music…though i am afraid not as much passion (ur unmatched) ….u have, precisely, hit the main points here…every little detail u mention…i noticed, felt and agreed….and m quite intrigued that u noticed the lighting and the cinematography…i for one love coke studio’s DOP…yes…they, in india, tried to show they have got it all…no rooh…every single movement in every single frame of coke studio made you drown in music…it was organic…which, as you sed, was missing here….but lets keep our fingers crossed and give it another chance…i am sure, or rather i hope, they will come around…

  8. Rohit, you hit the spot here, man!

    Exactly my views. Most of us are just doing what we do best – expect too much and jump the gun. We are barely an episode old and the kind of negativity its garnering is disappointing, to say the least. But yes, with time, the organizers will get a better pulse of the crowd and improvise. Hopefully.

    And like you pointed out the flaws in presentation, be it video panning (which Pak CS does supremely better) and sound engineering (which sucked at most parts yesterday), they ought to be reigned in.

    But the important facet is that they should stick to what they exhibited in the very 1st episode i.e. regional/folk music will be at the forefront. They have to do it for a very simple reason. These kind of music never hit our eardrums before and it’s high time they did.. even if we don’t understand the language.

    By the way, how many of us can “truly” understand our *favourite* English songs without having to read the lyrics online? C’mon!

  9. i don’t usually comment on people’s articles, but this one i can’t leave be. so –

    1. one thing that we need to understand, is the biggest difference between india, and pakistan/america/europe. as we know, hollywood or european movies don’t have their own songs, and pakistan simply does not make that many quality movies. so, their musical needs are satisfied by pop singers, and indie bands. but in india, we have so much music already from movies, we don’t look outwards.

    so, my point is, that coke studio pakistan featured singers, and songs, which were well known on some way there. but in india, no pop albums come out, and even if they do, they fail miserably. so, that’s why the music is “bollywood”.

    2. also, the setting of ‘that’ coke studio is set in minds of all of us, who r aware of it. but think of all those, who saw this for the first time. no obnoxious VJs, no frills, simple captions, and more importantly, real, actual singing.

    and finally, there is no reason for comparisons. i am sure that not every performance of coke studio pakistan was an instant classic. so, let it go. it’s about the music. enjoy it


  10. Seriosuly speaking i wouldn’t mind bollywood stuff, we have amazing singers in bollywood and in turn they’ll learn something from the folk singers which in turn will enhance the Indian industry.

    The other thing is, i want India’s Coke Studio to be different, the more it’s not like Pakistani one the better. Two different coke studios, two different identities, for two different tastes, and lots of variety between them. That’s it, that’s what coke studio is, to make us love pakistani music and make them love our music. And i think first episode was pretty good, i loved it except the Sunidhi Chauhan part, her part was a little weak.

    The other thing is Rohail Hyatt is someone different than Leslie Lewis, and it’s first episode only so there’s still lots to come and we’ll also see Leslie Lewis improving with selection.

    Talking about our musicians, i liked them all. They displayed good energy, specially the flutist, i love that guy.

    All in all it was a decent start, but it’s just a start and lots more will come. One can easily say that after looking at the line up of this year’s Coke Studio India.

  11. jitaditya says:

    U mentioned every performance except Sunidhi… what abt her??

  12. amit says:

    This post, in all its aspects, is so correct !!

    Although here’s one point that i’d like to raise. Whts this thing of giving mtv another “chance”.
    These are not some kids from sa re ga ma where the judges are saying “you’ll get better with time” nor is it a reality show where people got selected by unanimous public votes or polls.

    These guys are professionals who are THE music industry today sadly. I am sure they know what is good and bad music .. they have been doing this (well .. churning out shit) for far too long … Why shouldn’t we expect the biggies like Coke or MTV to come up with totally professional output .. especially when there is absolutely no lack of funds .. no lack of time for preps or rehearsals coz they were being rushed for airing the show too fast … they did it in their own time didnt they .. they had everything they could ask for and more .. no restrictions why go soft on them .. why the safety net if they failed !!

    NOTHING of what I have seen in the Indian version of coke studio is even barely average.. let alone touching the soul .. on the other hand i’d say its very poor .. the compositions are very ordinary .. poorly composed .. badly arranged .. musicians and well almost everybody you see on the camera appear so pretentious .. so forced .. wearing dark shades in a dim lit studio .. they seem to have spent more time choosing clothes from their wardrobe than sitting down together and trying hard to compose ONE single song or melody which truly has the potential to move the audiences .. as far as the dop or other things go .. well you have already given your comments on it ..

    why are we forced in being choosy about these songs in bits and pieces .. they are either good or bad .. and when you are doing a Coke studio (knowing the benchmark thts set by pakistani sessions) you better be good .. not average .. not can-do-better .. not dissatisfactory performance

    This bunch of people are in the place where they are so lucky enough to have bagged an opportunity to create something beautiful (trust me there are a lot more talented people out there but just not enough luck or connections and just not destined to be where these guys are) why not put all your effort and Really churn out something which will make all of us happy and proud for once .. why give them the benefit that they need some more time or its just the beginning ..
    If that’s the case then they clearly are not professional at all .. they all have lost their sense of wht is good .. probably enveloped by so much of bollywood filmy and commercial shit that they’ve actually started to believe that what they produced is worth going live on air .. If they really knew wht they were doing, we commoners wouldn’t be winging about the total lack of quality of this show .. They are not worth it .. and they are indeed a poorly talented, but very lucky, lot of people who have come together and trying to make things work for each other .. you scratch my back .. i lick your wtever .. mutual wankers society !!

    Its going down hill from here guys … terrible and sad reality !!

    • Rohit says:

      The first session has been completely recorded and I didn’t see anyone with ‘glares’ in the dim lit studio. May be you are talking about Shafqat amanat ali khan in the teaser of coke studio at MTV.

      Coming back, yes nothing lesser than superb should be expected but as I said, first season is done already. Let’s see whether it is downhill or redemption. Let the other episodes air. Second episode, am sure they will get their act together in a better manner.

      • amit says:

        Duude .. you couldn’t have missed that guitarist standing next to Chinna Ponnu in the session .. he was standing to her left .. wearing dark shades .. had a guitar strap like a fairy .. with pink feathers or fur on it..

        have a look

        although I am sure you were paying more genuine attention to other important details in the frame like lighting on the set and camera angles etc.

        • Rohit says:

          Aaah! yes yes I know what u are referring to. I did see him, but he forgot to register himself for long. That was unnecessary indeed. Honestly, it was all unimportant because I was listening but I take your point my friend. Awesome observation.


          • Surya says:

            I must appreciate for being the kind of Devil’s Adovocate that you have been and your thoughts were not only soundly logical but also very much thought provoking. Under the same context I wish to tell you that the kind of “pretentiosness” that you are complaining about has become a part of our culture in every aspect. We just want to show off good without being good. And I think the financers in India hadn’t given Leslie the kind of time that Rohail takes in Pakistan. The recording and rehearsing of the whole season got over in two months. There were singers who came to know what they would sing or how they would , after coming to the recording sessions. Leslie had to complete it in 2 months by sleeping just 2-3 hours a day. I hope the baniyas who are financing CS understand that a Musical show may come on TV but it is never ever a television serial.
            And the guy whom you are complaining about is Sanjeev Thomas and he is a typical show off guy like that. It’s his style statement. Go to his facebook fan page and you’ll witness even more weird (but artistic though) attires.

            • amit says:

              Thanks on the behind-the-scenes info on such a prestigious project which may sadly end up as a huge disaster. Its already kicked up a storm at this stage that the following seasons will be so carefully watched by people particularly to only look for more flaws and continue with this slag fest.

              I ws’nt aware of the Leslie Lewis situation with the prep time .. agreed .. but here’s my point.

              Leslie has been a seasoned musician and composer. I myself have been a fan of the colonial cousins project and the ‘piya tu’ remix with asha bhosale (although those are just the two still worth remembering .. but can’t comment on why there isn’t more such worthy stuff by him .. coz there may be too many reasons why he didn’t do more interesting fusion projects ) .. but considering that he’s a man who, I’d believe, surely understands good music and is very passionate about it, why didn’t he bother to put his foot down saying there was too little time to produce miracles or did he actually believe that he could pull it off within such short span. And i agree to the fact that the financiers (fucking wrong people with the right kind of money) in india want to cash on such things by giving very little time coz they cant wait to rake in the moolah .. but the real artists that these guys are who’ve been gifted by special talent … I feel they have a moral responsibility and obligation to make sure they really produce something worth while coz they’ve been given such golden opportunity .. instead they are very happily joining the club of untalented but lucky fuckers who are cashing in big time before opportunity the lucky period runs out.

              We have anyways lost out on a huge battle called bolly-fucking-wood (hate that fucking word) where the quality is constantly dropping at an uncontrollable rate… and now it has already reached rock bottom and now they’re are even scraping that ..

              These people have reached a stage where they don’t give a fuck about quality anymore .. money is all wt it is about and i am sure fame follows (poor ignorant people would think if he is on the big screen and television he must be talented .. so why not follow him) ..

              I am now wondering if leslie was put in a no-win situation where he got offered to produce the show but with just two months in hand .. or else there were another 100 in line if he said he couldn’t do it .. so why would he let go off such an opportunity .. who gives a flying fuck about wht comes out after 2 months .. as for whether this show would run well or not .. we have 100 whiners and a 100 million happy fucks with taste for mediocrity.. but atleast someone’s happy !!

              no jokes .. but i have been following the indian and pakistani coke studio sessions on youtube .. and i did read some comments where people said our sessions were better that pakistani sessions and it touched their soul .. With such people around shit will continue to sell in india and it’ll sell pretty well … in a country where people like pritam still get mega budget films by openly stealing melodies from all around the world, anything can happen .. that’s sad !!

              My reason for this hatred and anger is because I myself am a musician and i cant bear to see this form of art being treated like a whore by such people for the sake of money in my own country ..

              we haven’t even mentioned movies or other forms or art .. where are we heading guys !!

  13. zshan says:

    I am a Pakistani and a bit disappointed as I was expecting a lot from CS India. My biggest contention is that the music lacked the feel and soul. I am not expecting the quality to improve massively, maybe season 2, because all songs have been recorded, I assume. You always put some of your best stuff in the pilot episode and if some of the best was in this episode, the picture looks bleak. These singers play one or two songs only so improving is not an issue.

    There was a post in Express Tribune Pakistan about what might go wrong with CS India and the two main things have stood true. MTV and Leslie Lewis. MTV is as commercial as they get while CS is supposed to be exact opposite. I cannot see MTV fully agree to upload music to internet free of charge for the sake of universality. Disco lights and cloverfield camera work are the byproducts. Secondly, I’ve heard some of the stuff from Leslie Lewis and its not great. He may have experience of fusion but it is predictable and flat. It just feels that he may be playing the role of composer rather than facilitator who makes his team come up with ideas, experiment and enjoy. If the music is soulful, the MTV factor can be subdued. But I am really wary of person at the helm, I am afraid we will get the same.

    Please do not take this post as an offense or attack, I am just sharing my disappointment and I was expecting 8-10 great songs released this week but did not get much. CS PK S4E3 was a disappointment as well. I wanted CS India to be different, I wanted it to be India apart from the bollywood that I loathe but I did not get a lot. Hope next episode is great.


    • Rohit says:

      Zshan…welcome here my friend!

      Much remains to be seen whether the person at the helm is a facilitator or a composer but the discolights hell yea! u are so right. Also, if they won’t get their act right, am just very sure that they will not get another chance. Coke appears very sensitive about this property of theirs and am quite sure it will act in the right earnest. Let’s hope MTV doesn’t learn it the hard way.

      Loved your comment. Keep coming back!


      • ashoaib says:

        Greetings from Pakiland :)-

        Guyz I am not among those idiots fighting on F.Book over Coke Studio pak and India🙂 however seriously in my personal “mango man” opinion, i thought CSMtv will produced something great but unfortunately they couldn’t from “Disco” Lights to Fusion everything was not up to the mark… me it was NOISE and not music and this you don’t expect from a country which has singers bigger than life…. When I saw the participant’s name of Episode-1 I said WOW its gona be some night but it wasn’t… Again as Rohail Hayatt of Pak-CS once said “CS is an experiment and we don’t expect every experiment to be successful” so better luck with Season-2

        BTW have you guys heard Pak-CS Ep3? personally i think RH has taken the music to a newer dimension in Pakistan via EP3 it was simply amazing…. From the young kids of “Mole” to Ustad Sami it was delightful journey…. the Beat the rhythm the camera movement I enjoyed all…… Listening to Marvi and Ustad Saami was something………. it made you feel floating in the air with eyes closed. That composition / magic / touch is the main missing factor in CSMtv!


        P.S Any hater of PAKCS-EP3 might be a fan of Lady GaGa😛 Lolz

        • Rohit says:

          Hi Ashoaib!

          RH is right when he mentions that CS is an ongoing experiment. About EP3, we can discuss further on my blog. This place is dealing on CS at MTV India.

          No singer is bigger than life buddy…but the good ones have the potential to take you to musical heaven


  14. pokerface says:

    Can we have some old sambalpuri tribal folk music(The tribal music from western odisha)?The new sambalpuri songs are copying from bhojpuri.But old sambalpuri music is really good.This music deserves some exposure.

  15. was the audio/video quality as bad on tv also like it is on youtube? i can’t find any good quality links even on your official coke studio website..if you know links to download please share..

    Surely this season was a bit of a disappointment…the expectations were extremely high..the India version i thought was too haywire…too much happening…compared to the Paki version, which is far more simple and soothing..don’t you think? i’m not saying ours is perfect, we have flaws too..but coke studio Pak touches the heart. Still looking forward to the second episode of cokestudioatmtv..🙂 really liked Chadta Suraj and Hoo

    • Rohit says:

      Hi Sarah!

      The episode one was a mixed bag. Season still remains!🙂 Pakistan version is simpler in execution agreed but wait till you see what else we have in store. It is not ‘yours’ or ‘ours’ it belongs to all of us…the music addicts.


  16. ansar says:

    CS Mtv musicians have to really gel together. They have to give each other space rather than trying to cram in their notes in competition. They are all, no doubt, excellent musicians from all over India or they wouldn’t have made it to CS but they still have to have pure fun jam sessions. Then they will know each other’s style and nuances and they will make those work in the band’s favour. When they start sounding vastly more than the sum of the sounds of the individual instruments is when they start creating magic! Of course, Lesle Lewis has to guide the whole effort in a creative way. This is different stuff. The first episode is still too early to judge anyone. They will surely settle by the next few episodes and then the real fun begins. Pak CS did take a couple of episodes to have the kinks ironed out.

    Percussions and the bass line can make or break a number. The percussionist and the bassist seemed to be having a duel or may be it was just the sound engineer but otherwise respect for Harshdeep Kaur for her awesome effort in “Hoo”. Good thing she kept her eyes closed throughout the performance or the dancing lights would have spoiled her focus.

    Love from across the border.

    • Rohit says:

      Ansar…your comment is probably the best summing up I have read in a long time. Really appreciate it buddy. Thanks a lot. They will get their act together and come around I am sure.

      Please do check out my blog as well. Would love to hear more from you.


  17. Vineet says:

    My two cents, India has more diversity in Music so it’s harder to get the combination right, one of my Assamese friend opined that the Assamese folk music isn’t soulful at all, instead it has a happy feeling to it as it’s sung after the harvest. Same with the Tamil song, it’s has a very fast pace to it, it was obvious from the way the guitarists were unable to keep up with the tempo and gave up after a point.

    I would suggest focusing on specific regions of India in every episode and getting the theme right, Coke Studio Pak has less of a challenge in that sense, they don’t have to deal with Kuchipudi and Kathak at the same time.

    • jitaditya says:

      Well said Vineet… this issue has been disturbing me over last few days… Due to overwhelming influence of the Pak CS people are consciously or unconsciously looking for a similar feel & sound…

      I would not go as far as to say that Assamese music is not soulful… as a matter of fact there are multiple genres, not one thing called “Assamese music”… specifically talking of Bihu songs, they are basically songs of the youth with strong overtones of romance & undercurrent of sexuality…. hence no point of comparing it to Sufi music…

      This is not to say that this episode was flawless… I was not completely happy with it either… I would have liked to see a female singer pair with Shankar Mahadevan for better effect instead of Khagen Gogoi…

    • Rohit says:

      Yes Vineet and I do feel that concentrating region wise per episode might take away the essence but it’s a good idea nevertheless.

      Am in total agreement with your observation the tamil song.


  18. Hi Rohit,

    absolutely..sorry i just realized i used the words “yours” and “our” they were completely unintended :s didn’t mean it like is music..for all addicts…regardless..

  19. Saad says:

    This is an awesome critique. I am a huge fan of Coke Studio. Being a Pakistani, a lover of its music, and a die hard music lover indulging myself in the real beauty of music I had mixed feelings about Coke Studio going to India at first. Mind you I don’t dislike Indian music I just don’t have taste for some of the Bollywood music and I knew that when it does air it would have a bollywood spine so I didn’t want it smearing the fusion from Pak. I love the oldies from Mukesh to Lata to Rafi. Just amazing. But like I said, I had some mixed feelings but decided to give it the benefit of my doubts. Anyway I read a “review” of the first episode on the Tribune Express website and I have to say the man who wrote it is a jackass. Right off the bat he started comparing it to the Pak version and I’m thinking here is a show which has been on air for 4 years, employs some of the best talent around and produces magic and this moron is comparing it to a show which just aired its first episode ever. So here’s my little tidbit.

    When I saw the first couple videos it kind of reminded me of the first season of CS Pak when we didn’t have a set house band. I enjoyed it but not enough to say “oh man this is pure amazingness”. I didn’t feel the need to change my pants to say the least. I think the show has great potential though. If they can bring in a talented house band and stay away from being 70-80% bollywood, this show will perform well. When I watch season 1 of Rohail’s studio and then watch seasons 2,3, and 4, I fall in to complete amazement at the improvements made after season one. So I think this show will do well specially because I think most people in India, and correct me if I am wrong, have a taste for this kind of music. But I’d love to see them revive some of the oldies and really play some fusion. But then again its only one episode. I will leave the full critique when the season is over. I do, however, have to say that if they don’t fix that lighting and camera disaster soon I will only listen, never watch! haha

    • Rohit says:

      Hi saad!

      Trust me, the lights and camera bit will be fixed in the next season, not this one (Would love to be proved wrong). Also, they will be reviving the oldies…KK has sung ‘khiltey hain gul yahan’ (kishore kumar song). Not a fan of revival but that was for your information😉

      Bollywood music is scaling new level of moronic daily so I shall stay away from polluting this post dwelling on it even a % more.

      Very nice to see you sharing your fair opinion here my friend. Let’s give it time am sure it will all add up…

      Cheers again!

      • This was the first episode…y be so quick at judging…wait and watch (listen)

        India is a bollywood hit nation… Bollywood in India has been quite ..It.s not an easy task to overlook bollywood which comprises of bulk of music out here. Out of 7 on two songs had portions from bollywood (Which were intially borrowed from folk)

        I dont see any harm in that… Lot more to come sirji… Its first season only and of that only one episode.

        I never expected it to be same at Coke Studio… If it was what was point having another version.

        • Music is music… I have friends here who had never heard what folk could be like..with coke studio they did.

          Combinations were perfect and I sincerly feel that Mathangi, Mausam and Harshdeep and alike got a great platform to showcase whats the best in India…FOLK !

          In this land of diversity, folk changes its color every few miles. So much left. I personally feel showcasing all of that is not possible. Being Critique is good but appreciation is also required. I am waiting for the next set now.

          So please do not compare…just enjoy the unity of diversity of this country.



          • Rohit says:

            Ashutosh I did not compare buddy but then that doesn’t mean others won’t, that’s why the effort was to pre-reply that situation🙂

            Liked your comment and loved the fact that you also believe that this is a ‘branch’ and not a ‘mirror’ of the pakistan version…


            • All the music in the world is branched from those seven notes…. mathematically speaking , the permutation and combinations of the seven notes can bring out endless number of tunes…so no branches from anywhere else.

              Music branches from a place within the heart, where the seven notes dwell. May it be music from anywhere. May be that is a reason why appreciation is there for all genres of music across the world

              Harmony of music lies in its serenity. So i liked both the versions without any comparisons.

              Enjoy…and If you can do something please try arranging and uplaoding clear videos and audios of coke studio for all of us !

              What say?


      • Saad says:

        I have no doubt they’re going to improve. Like I said CS Pak season one was great but not super amazingtastically awesome as season 2. So I want to see what the rest of this season looks like and then I will review. Gotta give them a shot before I can have mine.

  20. neeta says:

    Goaporia songs(genre of assamese music) are soulful. bihu songs are songs of merriment, so it always has a happy feeling to it.

  21. _poohi says:

    Finally coming around to commenting..

    Well I already emailed you song by song basis .. I loved harshdeep kaur.. but then I loved her when she first hit TV.. remember that music show? i dont remember the name.. but it was exclusive for the folk music of india of sorts..

    The major problem is.. when you associate with a popular brand like coke studio esp when their popularity is at its highest.. u better shape up.. dont u think?

    I dont care abt the lighting or the camera angles.. what I hated was that some songs.. felt out of sync with the beats.. the transition between the instruments.. was not seamless.. in short.. the composition sucked.. i was again not happy with the choice of songs..

  22. Natasha says:

    A ‘wannabe’ show. You nailed it.

    Correct me if im wrong- If it’s Music it HAS to be Bollywood in India. The primary reason why India has not been able to produce quality ‘pop’ culture?

    Coke studio has been raped with that bollywood touch.

    • @Rohwit says:

      Hi Natasha

      It is just because the ‘populists’ have more money (sadly no taste) in our country to appreciate what is gold and what is not. Am quite hopeful for our ‘sound’ to reach out to the world thanks to Coke Studio at MTV. Trust me, they have got this message loud and clear🙂

  23. Girish says:

    What I like about CS is it’s attempt to discover music within India.For last few years Indian popular music is mostly getting imported either from neighbor country or from western countries.I’m not against bringing music from different countries to India.Art should cross boundaries but it shouldn’t result in death of Indian music and Indian sounds.The current popular hindi music is filled with rock,trance,electronic,hip-hop etc. etc where is our own sounds? In fact now a days you hardly listen the sounds of traditional Indian musical instruments .It’s high time that we should discover new sounds within our own country and bring them to forefront otherwise in the world music arena we will get the tag of copy cats and will be know as musically impotent country. Going back to roots through folk music is a must but I agree it should be done in moderation.

    I don’t give a damn about about camera angles,light ,costumes,make-up,hair style,lipstick blah blah blah.but I’m disappointed with arrangements.There were times when the music got lost in loud noise or got converted into loud noise and that was like shit.You don’t expect that from MTV people who are supposed to be experts in handling music but I guess now they hold expertise in doing reality shows and have forgotten how to handle music for musical shows.But like many others I’ll like to hope that with time they will regain their lost talent.Otherwise they can always change their name from MTV to RBS TV(Reality bull shit TV).

    • @Rohwit says:

      Girish, I wouldn’t go and term their efforts as sh*t. It’s all about what clicked for you and what didn’t and remember it is individual specific.

      When others spoke about camera movements, lights etc. they were referring to the transition of shots blending in the background and not ‘in your face’. (which was absent for most part of the show)

      Take your point completely buddy on the music choice…and am sure the forthcoming episodes will be even better


  24. girish says:

    I’m not calling the effort Shit.If u will ask me, I’ll say CS is the best thing done by MTV in a decade or so.I guess u misinterpreted the word “arrangements” .I was not talking about show arrangements and efforts.I was talking about music arrangements ( and it didn’t work for me . U r right everybody has got their own likes and dislikes so things that didn’t click for me might have worked for somebody else and I respect that.

    I really don’t give that much importance to visual aspect while watching a show like this but again as already said I have all the respect for point of view of others regarding things they like and dislike.

  25. Rebeliouspirit says:

    i guess most of the points have already been put forward…but there is one thing which make CS-Pak apart i.e it is not channel specific…CS is shown on all the channels/Networks(if they want to)…this makes a huge difference…i think CS-India should follow the same, MTV Specific would curtail the audience….Apart from this Rohail is a master in its own class, i m not sure and dont know much about Leslie.

    Overall a Good Effort…way to go


    • @Rohwit says:

      Robeliouspirit – Yes an awesome observation. Leslie has been away from the main league for a good part (but has been passively associated since long). Hope they improve more and more in the days to come


  26. anand says:

    nicely written post rohit, completely agree with your views. Both song selection & performance according to me were below expectation.. I wouldnt even start about the audio bit, but when i compare the video of coke studio version of “garaj baras’, especially the part where rahat fateh ali khan performs or the video of ‘Aik alif’, the indian version doesnt even come close… Lets hope that with the time MTV coke studio will improve & we will get to see some hidden talents.


    • @Rohwit says:

      Thanks Anand. I guess giving them some time isnt a bad idea. Also, am sure everyone will say they havent improved a bit but what they fail to understand is that the first season has been completely season 2 should be when the ‘improvements’ should come into application.


  27. Ankur Sharma says:

    Pandit Jasraj, Gurdaas Mann, Satinder Sartaj, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Pandit Ravi Shankar and Anoushka Shankar, A R Rehman, Daler Mehndi (yes, he can sing brilliant sufi), Richa Sharma and many many more……where are they???
    Season 2 should have some of them atleast.
    And yes, episode 1 was a big disappointment, but Tochi Raina and Chinnaponnu were the saving grace. Thanks to them!!

    Hoping it gets better….and someone plzz tell the jerks at MTV to upload the videos with subtitles….


    • @Rohwit says:

      Yes, am sure they will get some of them (if not all). Who can forget tu mere rubaru hai (maqbool) from daler mehndi! May be he will sing that with another artist and will be an awesome fusion presentation!


  28. Fahad says:

    Greetings from Pakistan.

    Lovely Piece from Rohit, agreed on most of the points. What i don’t understand is the “Perception” among many Indians that “Coke Studio@Mtv” would somehow establish a music industry that would be independant of Bollywood. I don’t see that happening.

    In Pakistan, Pop scene started in 70s and many independant musicians started focusing on new sounds i.e Pop etc. as soon as filmi music took a back seat. Many bands appeared on the scene and hence the Pop-Rock culture thrived. Coke studio would have never happened if the Pop-Rock Culture hadn’t existed. What I mean is that “Coke Studio” is the product of of a Vibrant Musical Industry and not vice versa as many in India perceive. I don’t think that “Coke Studio” India will be substantial in doing much for the Local Music Scene as it is already dominated by Bollywood faces (The main reason I don’t expect much from Coke Studio@MTV).

    It must be kept in mind Coke Studio@Mtv is focussed more on raising TRP ratings for Mtv than Experimenting with music. One of the reasons Coke Studio Pakistan is a success story, was the motive behind it, “CREATING SOMETHING NEW”, it started out as a half-baked concept and evolved each year with a fresher and more matured sound everytime. On the other hand, Coke Studio@Mtv is trying too much “Fusion” of folk and Bollywood on the very first season. Coke Studio@Mtv simply can’t survive on Fusing just FOLK with BOLLYWOOD, people will get bored after a couple of Episodes. Therefore it is a MUST to invite fresh talent from Underground scene and I am sure that the Pop/Rock bands can do wonders on such platform.

    The other thing I have noticed is that the House Band is not very good. I heard “Hoo” by Harshdeep. The Song could have been way better had it been treated differently. The groove was missing, Drumming and guitaring below par. It wasn’t “Coke Studio” material at all. Somehow I feel the House band aren’t talented enough to actually make Coke Studio@Mtv successful. The Benchmark set is very high and Mediocrity on Coke Studio@Mtv won’t help the cause. The People at Coke Studio@Mtv should realize that it’s the credibility of entire Indian Musical Industry at stake if they fail to step up their game.

    My two cents.

  29. @Rohwit says:

    Hi Fahad

    The idea is not TRP increase as much as I know but yes you are right, the ‘channel’ might get in the way. I guess the artist line up consists of many people who a lot of ‘populists’ didnt know about earlier.

    loved these lines from u – The People at Coke Studio@Mtv should realize that it’s the credibility of entire Indian Musical Industry at stake if they fail to step up their game.

    Agreed and am sure the game will be stepped up. Am just very sure🙂

    Thanks again!

  30. hammad says:

    hello im Pakistani, im disappointed in CS India, i suspected that, it will be ruined by commercialization, CS india was a joke, im no CS india jealous or hater, but CS India really needs to bring some standards like original CS, India has a lot of talent when it comes to singing, hell their religion is singing, bhajans and all that stuff, have also heard some talented Indians in youtube dunno why werent they invited, CS India had a very bad start, good luck for the future anyway, will be nice to hear some real Indian music aside Bollywood, if good, will be refreshing..



    • @Rohwit says:

      Salaam Hammad

      Don’t worry, a lot of new guys will be seen. In fact if you have followed the 2 episodes, there were ‘new’ (unheard) guys as well…


  31. Sanjay Kumar says:

    Im surprised no one’s mentioned the instrumentalists getting carries away by the camera. The guitarists that we’ve got have got one of of the most irritating screen presence i’ve seen in a while. Turn off the goddamn lights atop the band i say! Why does everybody share the same expression as that Charles Ingram guy on Millionaire?

    I did have a ball over at MTV India’s fanpage posting a page long bash-view on their wall here:!/cokestudioatmtv?sk=reviews

    It also felt good going around the respective youtube pages and hitting dislike (except the Dheere Dheere number by Megha Sriram which imho is the best of CSI so far!! Hats off !!)

    Im simply going to give up if this remains the case in Ep.3 as well…

    p.s. Why Leslie? Why not Hariharan? Im a big fan of him and all that, but what will it take to throw Shankar Mahadevan out of the CS sets?

  32. weirdoonweed says:

    A VERY VERY VERY STRANGE and illogical i noted about the HARSHDEEP KAUR’S “HOO” SONG. It reminded me of the song “GARDEN” by Pearl Jam, in terms of the instrumentation and overall feel…

  33. Adeel says:


    I hope you all guys are fine & well.

    Please click on following link to see the latest interview of Rohail Hyatt: –


  34. Shaitan says:

    “what will it take to throw Shankar Mahadevan out of the CS sets?”

    Wow, care to explain? I loved all Shankar’s songs in CS.

    • @Rohwit says:

      Shaitan ji!

      May be ‘throwing shankar out of cs sets’ was an extreme remark. Ali zafar and atif have sung many songs in coke studio (am comparing because thats what everyone likes to…but have tried to make a point without going on the quality so read on🙂 )

      Ali zafar, atif and am sure many others have sung more than 2 songs in coke studio pakistan but they were (As far as i know) not featured in the same episode…

      now getting the drift?🙂

  35. @nkit says:

    Why doesnt anyone talk about Leslie ??
    I believe there are very talented artists in India and you can make the best music with them. The music director here plays a very important role. I think someone else like Amit trivedi, Vishal bharadwaj would have done a much better job.

    Well its only the first season atleast I can make sure I do not switch on the television for atleast one entire season of Coke studio @ MTV.

    BTW check out Richa sharma’s Tere bin on Coke studio.

  36. […] Not going into the details of what we didn’t like or what didn’t click. There is a separate post for it  which you can read here. […]

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