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.

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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!

ZariyaAni 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’

  1. jonmoy says:

    Love the post. Love the season!

    One thing:

    Padma Bhushan Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan (one of the doyens of Indian classical music and the uncle of Ustad Rashid Khan) in all “it’s” glory takes…

    Should be:

    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…

  2. orangak says:

    There is one more singer(abhilasha chellam) from sa re ga ma pa
    Here is the song she sung infront of ARR
    She is standing on the right extreme in the bottom row in Zariya

  3. Arvind Narayanan says:

    “Jagao Mere Des” ka full video kahaan hain? You hv posted the BTM video here. 🙂

  4. Swapnil Salkar says:

    i somehow cant get enough of that INFECTIOUS smile of Farah Shiraj while she goes RIDAAHAA RIDAAHAA….wowwwww!!! that smile has transcendental value!!! very much like Arif Lohar in JUGNI with MISHA!! they fill the song with SO MUCH JOYY!!!

  5. Srijith says:

    I thought Aao Balma was done pretty well. I liked it a lot. All the songs were magical. Have started watching Coke Studio now only and that’s because of ARR

  6. Sabharish says:

    Well written …. The episode sounded great and far better (packaging & promotion) in comparison to what coke presented last year…

    Rahman was as usual sublime. But I believe his bengali rendition sounded a bit out of place esp when followed by suchi (Amazing). Although music transcends language barrier, but I believe it is essential to have some sort of familiarity towards a language just to understand where to give the required thrust. A small observation when he sings Naan yean piranthen (a familiar language) could see the lyric punches and beat synchronizing perfectly but in jagao mera desh the opening feels a bit out of sync… Just heard Ram’s powerful Kattey.

    A great start!!!

  7. Indeed Aao Balma was more of a visual treat but arrangement wise also it was very very inventive and who else but ARR could’ve only thought of something like that.. just disagree here with you that percussion broke the continuity, rather for me it was perhaps the USP leading upto piano, guitar and bass together so well! The second best after Soz O Salaam IMO.. may be after a few million views you can start listening to it also.. the slow poison that it may turn out 😉

  8. fareedaturiyaturiyaja says:

    hey ! coke studio india – season 3 article page not opening. pl do fix. thnx

  9. AA says:

    Wait, did you miss Salim-Sulaiman’s, or was that from another program altogether?

  10. sameera says:

    with all due respect to AR Rehamn and the coke studio team but they are just trying to hard,one thing iv noticed about the original version (Pakistan coke studio) is they its all so effortless it comes to them naturally and sounds organic and AMAZING whereas this is just like a slower version of our bollywood crap.

  11. veer says:

    its good but not good enough to match upto the pakistani coke studio theirs has the soul which all this fancy studio,instruments and money cant buy us coke studio MTV IS A FAILURE i much rather listen to the Pakistan one

    • AA says:

      One key difference is that Pakistani version has theme which brings out soul because it tells a story. The Indian version has been up to now, a theme-less show. Perhaps it will get better as it all appears with the current version.

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