Coke Studio India Must Be Cheered

Coke Studio debuted in India last Friday. Armchair critics did detailed analyses proving conclusively that the first episode sucked. “Loud and empty” said one post. Another post said it “veered dangerously close to cacophony at times.”.  There were some voices that attempted to tone down things a bit including this post, this tweet and this tweet.

Still, the general buzz around the first episode (based on a highly unscientific analysis of tweets, blog comments and Facebook status updates) seems to be negative – Coke Studio India pales in comparison to the Pakistani version.

I say it’s premature the pass the verdict. Till will get to the end of this season, I say we should cheer Coke Studio for what it’s attempting to do.

Coke Studio puts the focus squarely on music. Can you think of any television program (let alone a music program) that is not interrupted by ads? No ads, no garrulous presenter, no arrogant judges, no “reality” drama, no idle chit-chat – just one song after the other for one whole hour.

Coke Studio puts the spotlight on musicians. The musicians own the stage. Granted there are a few famous artists in the picture, but so were a number of musicians who would never had the opportunity to present their art to such a large and diverse audience, had it not been for Coke Studio. The most recent print of Sound Box magazine describes the plight of musicians in India:

Ask the mass consumers of music out there about what comes to mind when they think of Munni badnaam hui? Malaika Khan Arora and Salman Khan…..Ask them about who composed these songs…..and you can bet your last rupee that the vast majority of them would have no clue.

And if this happens to musicians who have “made it big”, do other musicians really stand a chance unless platforms like Coke Studio come along? Next time I hear a Mousam Gogoi song, I will have a smiling face to put against the name – and that’s a cool thing to be able to do.

Coke Studio challenges the language barrier. Other than Hindi, the first episode of Coke Studio India featured Bangla, Assamese, Punjabi and Tamil. This is great for music lovers – they have more choice. And it’s great for musicians – they get a bigger following. One of my favorite songs from the Coke Studio across the border happens to be in Persian. And with 1.5 million plus hits on YouTube, I know Coke Studio can encourage people to care more about the music than the language.

Coke Studio challenges the genre barrier. It throws in a bunch of musical forms in a melting pot. What comes out can either be surprisingly good or chaotic. My favorite number from the first episode was the Tamil folk – Sufiesque (I just invented the word, feel free to use with credit to me) collaboration between Chinnaponnu and Kailash Kher. And while I felt that the Punjabi folk – Carnatic fusion by Tochi Raina – Mathangi Rajasekhar was more confusion than fusion, I admired Coke Studio’s audacity to try out something like that. In the end, I think this kind of experimentation must be encouraged. Even if it produces only a handful of gems, I think Coke Studio would have delivered.

To those who are bemoaning the first episode, I say – settle down and give the show a chance. If you are involved enough to have an opinion about the first episode, you must be a music lover. I hope MTV takes note of some of your suggestions and doesn’t get all defensive and snooty.

And while this season of Coke Studio is on, you should be cheering it. You should be cheering it because it could make a difference. You should be cheering it because it is significantly better than the alternative. Oh wait, there is no alternative.

13 thoughts on “Coke Studio India Must Be Cheered

  1. ahsan

    The response of Coke Studio in India is mixed or i would rather say negative. The reason for that is people are not used to watch such bland program where singers sing standing upright. They are tuned to watching sizzling videos. As compared to Coke Studio Pakistan where talent is limited but its a win win situation for Coke guys because people can hear something good other than bomb blast and political news.

    1. Maha

      Seriously man! There was no need to show Pakistan in bad light just to make yourself feel better. I will also say that glamorous world of Bollywood is doing a good job to make you feel Indians not to think of the wide spread poverty in your country. A good escape from reality i must say. If talent in our country is limited then your film directors wouldn’t be asking our singers to sing in your movies. Don’t you think so?

      Hatred aside, i will just say that i enjoyed CS MTV. It was definitely different and unique to come out of India. Bollywood has started to sound monotonous now so it was a welcome change. I wanted to say something good but unfortunately your comment made to show hatred as well.

  2. uvesh qureshi

    most people from hindi,punjabi urdu speaking belt of the region,who have seen Coke studio pak before are not going to like the Indian one. But then india is lot more then just these ppl. they just cant throw sufi type music in it and call it a day. they will have to experiment a lot more then pak.

    very few genre of music can match sufi inspired stuff. its in a way, a spiritual experience. but then try showing coke studio pak to a tamil and ask him if he finds it better then indian one.

    i watched coke studio pak because of sain zahoor , i had seen him sing before and it was a mesmerizing experiences seeing him sing in Coke studio pak. OTOH i have never heard chinnaponnu and i dont understand her language but then i am pretty sure she can make ppl dance with just reading her laundry list. i had the same sort of smile while watching both of these perform. i would have never heard chinnaponu if it wasnt for Coke studio india, i doubt if coke studio pak would have given her a chance.

  3. hasnain

    Experiments on music should go on and CS india should not rated on count of people views and TRP ratings.
    Experiments have not always succeeded but they can be, if we wait with passion and not stop experimenting, that’s what I have got concluded from CS Pakistan.

  4. sujata chaudhri

    My biggest disappointment with Coke Studio India was that it relied tremendously on Bollywood.The singers and the songs.Bollywood is a big enough commercial machinery which has a sustenance of it’s own.In a way Bollywood music is the only music popularly heard.
    So a platform like Coke Studio does not need Bollywood.Yes,from a commercial angle and with viewership in mind perhaps that strategy helps but then MTV has never followed a safe path.
    MTV was always about walking the untrodden path-then why fall into this safety net?
    This was the biggest disappointment.
    The other to the more discerning ears the whole show was off key and the arrangement of the music terrible.It sounded more like noise than music.
    One of the biggest reasons for Coke Studio Pakistan’s success is the ultimate creativity of Rohail Hyatts arrangement of music.
    I think that while it is fair to say that any program takes it’s time to evolve–I think the guys at Coke Studio India should do some serious soul searching and work out how it can be enhanced with artists who enjoy exploring and can be creative with their music.
    We have rich music and extremely talented musicians outside of Bollywood.Furthermorealso an extremely rich heritage of lyrics and songs outside of Bollywood too.

  5. Anupam Mehta

    First episode was really good. It’s feel great to listen some new compositions and fusions that we have never heard. India is under an attack of a virus called Filmi Music. Coke Studio can serve as an antivirus only if it keeps on showing performances like these.
    Tip Top n Me Dolkar, Vethalai, Chadhta Suraj, Bichhua, Sufi by Harshdeep were all great.
    Carnatic portion in Yaar Vasainda was too good.
    Keep it up. Keep showing such awesome blends of Music. It makes us know our Indian music.

    AND IT’S A HUMBLE REQUEST- ‘PLEASE DON’T SHOW ANY CRAP or BLENDS OF CRAP LIKE “Shiela ki Jawani”, “Munni Badnaam”, “Dhinka Chika” etc. It has been a high time’. WE want to listen fresh music.

    Coke Studio Rocks 🙂

  6. sarfaraz chowdhry

    first episode was really good…………but we people especiall youth likes atif aslam so just play his song jalpari ..
    thank you

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  8. Aradhika

    The music grows on you, it really does. I’m listening to Bichua and getting mesmerized by Bondo’s beats, i hear Shaan and Saurav Moni and love it and of course Aakriti Kakkar and Shankar Mahadevan in Tere Bina- lovely!
    I’m hitting You tube wildly! Its celebration time! Coke came to India! I may actually start drinking the horrid, sugary drink just cuz of the music!

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