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 http://almostareview.wordpress.com/