Tag Archives: Pakistan

Coke Studio at MTV – Songs For Sale and Minicert Review

If you hadn’t already heard, the songs from the Coke Studio India are up for sale.

iTunes US     iTunes UK     iTune Canada     Flipkart

If you want to check out reviews before buying, your best bet is probably Music Aloud. After my (ahem, hugely popular) post supporting by Coke Studio, I have been a passive, disengaged spectator. I still support the program but I think it needs to produce at least one truly magical song for it to deliver on its promise. I am still waiting for that song.

On a separate note, I went for the Coke Studio Minicert gig at Hard Rock Cafe, Bangalore. The lineup was interesting – Tochi Raina, Mathangi Rajashekhar, Sanjeev Thomas and Papon – and the music was good for the most part. Leslie Lewis made a surprise appearance for the last song.

Tochi Raina sang a couple of songs and disappeared for the rest of the show. Mathangi sang really well, but as a friend commented, her Carnatic parts did not register. May have been the acoustics of the place. Sanjeev Thomas was mercurial. He got the only encore for the night but also missed his cue and had to be rescued by Mathangi. Papon, for me, was the find of the evening. He is young, lights up the stage and a brilliant singer. He was equally good singing Assamese folk and backing up Mathangi with semi-classical vocals.

A good show overall, BUT, before you buy the ticket for the minicert in your city, I recommend you find out what it will buy you. In this particular gig, the main space for the audience was off-limits for us. It looked like this space was reserved for the event sponsors. It would have been nice if HRC has told us about this beforehand. Instead they took our money, and made us feel like we were gate-crashing the party – not cool.

And before I forget – Did you know that the songs from the Pakistani edition of Coke Studio (Season 2 and 3) were available on iTunes? I found out only recently.

Season 2 – iTunes US     iTunes UK     iTunes Canada
Season 3 – iTunes US     iTunes UK     iTunes Canada

[Correction, Aug 23: It’s Sanjeev Thomas, not Sanjay Thomas.]


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.

Bollywood Musicians Bare Claws

Is there something off in the Bollywood music industry? Consider this:

  • Shaan on Twitter about Rahat getting off easy – Rahatbhai found rahat pretty easily with DRI and FERA. A Fine and he’s fine to carry on. Wonder if we were in Another Country in similar situation, would it be as easy ??!!
    My take: Shaan’s public outburst is a little disappointing. Even if there is some truth in what he is implying, he comes across as a bitter, fading star. I think he’s better than that.
  • Abhijit alleges a music industry racket involving producers (Mahesh Bhat), music labels (Tips) and Pakistani musicians (like Rahat). He doesn’t exactly spell it out but with the Rahat arrest incident in the backdrop, is he insinuating money laundering?
    My take: Sour grapes. Abhijit is a long time Pakistan baiter who feels that his career went south because of Pakistani singers. He is wrong. His career went south because of singers better than him – Pakistani and Indian.
  • Sonu Nigam roasts Shankar Mahadevan, A.R. Rahman, Himesh Reshammiya and Adnan Sami at GIMA awards. Sample this song sung to Maa’s tune –
  • Main kabhi batlata nahin, Kharaj (low note, sa) se mooh phirta hoon maa,
    Gaane do mujhe uche suron me, Neeche ke sur se darta hoon main maa

    My take: Good fun! And by the looks of their laughter, it looked like Shankar, ARR and Adnan Sami were having fun too. Or was it a case of “Tum itna jo muskura rahe ho…”?

Coke Studio In India?! Fingers Crossed

Anyone who has seen the delectable live show program from across the border will understand why I am so excited about the news that Coke Studio may come to India! Like most Indians, I have many misgivings about Pakistan and it’s attitude towards India but I can’t help admiring, even envying, their music scene. What do I like about Pakistani music, specifically Coke Studio?

  1. They have figured out a way of packaging local, folk music with western, modern music in a very pleasing manner. Purists may frown upon this approach but I think it makes folk music a lot more accessible and appealing to the younger crowd.
  2. A lot of music is produced for its own sake and not as a prop in a movie. Now that may be because the Pakistani movie industry sucks but in my opinion, this focus on music produces very good results.
  3. Live music always feels better. It has an element of magic that is somehow lost in the recording. Live music has a lot of engagement going on – amongst the artists, between the artist and the audience and within the audience – which make it a very personal experience unique to each individual in the audience. Finally, live music provides the artist freedom to improvise. If you have seen Hariharan or Shankar Mahadevan on stage, you’ll know how much fun that can be.

My only hope is that the Indian version remains true to the original format (live, non-mainstream music). Check out one of my favorite Coke Studio performances and you’ll know what I am talking about.

PS: Check out something one of the commenters on Youtube pointed out. See how Zeb and the drummer smile when the chorus kicks in at 1:45 and tell me if you don’t feel like smiling with them! That’s the edge of live performance!