From the days of Allan Faqeer’s “Teray Ishq Main” and Nazia Hassan’s “Pyar Diyan Gallan” to Saieen Zahoor and Noori’s “Ek Alif” and countless renditions of “Jugni”, folk melodies have always ruled the hearts of Pakistani audiences. The trend continues in full swing with the second episode of “Coke Studio” season five.
It is impossible not to enjoy and cherish the melodies that come right from our own soil; every harmony is a reservoir of history, every chorus is unique and every stanza a holy verse. Kudos to “Coke Studio” for exporting our epic folklores to other countries and making everyone realise the importance of this cultural treasure.
Raw ballads of Potohar Valley
One would be surprised to know that until the filing of this report the most trending song was Meesha Shafi and Chakwal group’s “Ishq Aap Bhi Awalla”. Chakwal group is a group of four men who stand and sing in chorus around a single dhol. In the villages and town centres of Potohar region, there are usually a group of 16 or more people who perform in the same manner in front of audiences that gather to watch them. Shafi’s voice, which now has a new dimension to a range of traditional and modern music, blends well to support the group’s very heavy vocals.
The Chakwal group’s expressions while singing tell you how much they love their work and the YouTube hits tell us how much people love them.
Bilal Khan: Maturing with time
The raw, unfinished and simple structure of “Larho Mujhey”, Khan’s latest song for “Coke Studio”, tells a lot about the musical journey that he’s currently on. However, at the same time, the strong lyrical content and Khan’s control on the progression of the song reflect how he has matured as an artist. “My earlier songs were very sad and I had explained why they were sad. Now, I am trying to explain why I am happy. Things have improved in my life. I have now reached my dream but what is the next step, how do I improve from here?” says Khan.
An ode to Amir Khusrau
Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad radiated sheer confidence during their performance of Amir Khusrau’s kalaam “Khabram Raseeda”; a song about sheer honesty and love for the beloved. “We have not changed since the time of our ancestors. There were certain changes and effects but we have managed to preserve the original through all these years,” says Ayaz. And the truth in his statement resonates in their soul stirring performance of this classic Sufi poetry of love and devotion.
Tahir Mithu makes you drown in love
“Even during half-time at school, I would sit in class and play beats on the tables,” says Tahir Mithu, who has been playing music since he was a child growing up in Kotri, Sindh. He later on went to perform at Bhit Shah for Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai’s urs and since then has been enthralling audiences with his soulful vocals. From the very first note of the timeless “Pere Pavandi Saan” (Bhittai’s Sindhi folk tale of Sassi Punno), you are taken on a voyage through the Indus river and its beautiful folk tales. Sindhi melodies needed such packaging and finally someone is doing justice to the folk tales that need to be heard by the world.
Atif Aslam gives his career best as a vocalist
From winning a million hearts through “Aadat” to being one of South Asia’s most sought after rock stars; Atif Aslam has really come of age. His latest performance in “Coke Studio” was yet another feather in his cap. The brilliance with which he performed an improvised version of his own song “Rabba Sacheya” proved why he’s one of the biggest superstars of the country.
Stating earlier that he likes to explore different dynamics and dimensions when it comes to music, Aslam lived up to that promise. In his latest performance, we saw a totally new Aslam; an Aslam who now has a great command over Punjabi diction and is more experimental in his approach.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2012.