It’s that time of the year again. Time for a new season of Coke Studio India. That time when we will again become hopeful about it, and then finally give up, and go back to the edition of Pakistan. Aha, still not there.
Rohwit earlier wrote this post wondering if this new edition will finally deliver what Coke Studio really stands for in our neighboring country. This season opened with A R Rahman. And then? Well, play the songs and keep reading. And let us know in comments section if you agree with our views or not.
The much awaited Season 3 of the Indian Version of Coke Studio kickstarted with a bang on August 17, with none other than ARRahman and his team of musicians. The anticipation was 2 inches above sky high because of the hype that MTV successfully created with systematic ‘leaks’ and a million teasers. Let’s see if it did what it has to do and must do!
Zariya – Ani Choying Drolma sets the pace with superb bass accompanying the arrangement. She chants, and enchants! Not before long the backup girls spring into action (One of them is the Indian Idol Season 1 contestant Prajakta shukre as well). Couldn’t help but feel the girls were singing on that all too familiar ‘ishwar allah’ (1947 The Earth) tune. But that’s when Farah Siraj makes an entry and stays till the end of the song. A typical ‘hook’ in the song is missing and arrives just 2 mins before the song ends. It’s not a ‘typical’ song. It’s a prayer, a call for love and we have never experienced Tibetan chants the way this song makes you experience them. There are 3 vocal characters in the song – Ani, Back up vocals, and Farah Siraj. Farah is the ‘hook’ and she soon infects the backup girls to sing to her tune as Ani goes about with the chants. Music equivalent of the word ‘heaven’ was explored with this song and HOW! The percussion is spot on, ARR on fingerboard was spot on so much so that he was smiling, swaying, something we thought we would never see! The arrangement feels studio, Coke Studio!
Naan yen – Rayhanah calls out and while the call in itself sounded a little rough, AR Rahman brings in polish with this free flowing composition that gives the soul some rest the same way Nenjukulle soothed us in Unplugged. We would have liked a bite more from Reyhanah though. A Tamil track that makes the entire ‘language barrier’ incidental and almost insignificant. Highly recommended!
Aao Balma – Padma Bhushan Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan (one of the doyens of Indian classical music and the uncle of Ustad Rashid Khan) in all his glory takes the dias in this song. A Hindustani classical piece that flirts melodiously with Carnatic. The song starts delicately giving an overall feel of a beloved welcoming her lover. The sargam in between was arranged well and even though at times the arrangement dominated the voice, nothing went out of sync. The percussion in between did very little to lift the song and in my view it broke the continuity of the song. Towards the end it felt a little scattered. Will I hear it again? Not much. Will I see it again? YES! perhaps a million times! The visual delight that we have come to associate with Coke Studio is there for all to see in it’s full glory in this song. Be it the Juganbandi between Ustad and Prasanna (who makes the electric guitar sound like an electric bulbul tarang at times in the song). The grandson Faiz Mustafa sounds promising along with Murtuza, Qadir, Rabbani and Hasan Mustafa.
Ennile Maha Oliyo – The shortest offering from the episode and we wish that was longer. Issrath and Rayhanah sing the song together and you can make out easily how well prepared they are. Easy on ears, the tune will lead you to play this on repeat (just like Naan Yen) and I am referring to people who don’t understand Tamil (like me). That’s what ARR does and does it in style! The guitar man (Prasanna) flirts with carnatic notes yet again and does a huge favor on our senses. The percussion by Sivamani is fragile yet perfect!
Jagao mere desh ko – AR Rahman tries his hand in Bangla in the opening part of the song and does rather well. However, the continuous descending tone of the opening notes is what will catch your attention first. It is from there, the song goes up up and away! Fusion at its (Coke Studio) best! It is quite tough what to praise most. The superb arrangement, the excellent Suchi, the superlative backups or Blaaze. Back in Pakistan they used bohemia in turns and not together with the singers but here, ARR gets Blaaze to sing along and boy does it sound good! Of course there were some pronunciation issues and towards the end you feel the song if going a bit off track, but when you can live with someone pronouncing ‘ghut ke’ as ‘gutkhe’ here, you can certainly let go of these minor glitches. We did! And it felt superb! Try it.
Soz O Salaam – Again the three generations team up to present this song. The magician Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan sahab welomes us to the composition and his grandson Faiz Mustafa holds his ground well. The song could have done slight better had the words been clearer. The tune makes up for it though. Tune wise (even though the rest of the season remains to be seen), this would be one of the best this year. The ‘ARR’ continuum fingerboard adds an overall feeling of a spaced out composition which is unmatched by any other song from this episode. Ironical that this song wasn’t featured on August 17 episode (but is available here). Word has it that this will be featured on T.V. in the ‘sum up’ episode that will have one song from each producer.
With so much already being said (rightfully so, most of it) about Coke Studio India, this episode has set the right tone and it looks like we are in for a cracking season, finally! With the promising line up ahead, we have all the reasons to believe so.
It also reinforces the new formula that a lot of music shows would want to imitate….’When in trouble, call Allah-Rakha Rahman’