COPENHAGEN: This is with reference to Rafay Mahmood’s article “Coke Studio’s Indian mystery — resolved” (July 13). The writer has tried to explore the reasons why “Coke Studio @ MTV” failed to garner much attention among the Indian audience, even though the Pakistani version of the programme gained immense popularity in Pakistan. I think the Indian version’s failure is because of a cultural problem, not an aesthetic one or one of overlooked talent. Sufiana kalaam is popular throughout Pakistan. Up and down the Indus, the same melodies and themes have been sung by bards for centuries. Mystics like Bulleh Shah, Baba Farid, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Sachal Sarmast, Rehman Baba and dozens of others are revered. Before the pseudo-intellectuals among our middle class became obsessed with issues of ethnicity, the kalaams and poetry of the Sufis were celebrated all along the Indus, without distinguishing between dialects and languages, with the focus being on celebrating a common spiritual and aesthetic experience by everyone, be they farmers, nomads, warriors, traders or faqirs.
Though at a political level, many Pakistanis distinguish themselves through a plethora of ethno-political parties, when the music starts playing, it touches nearly all the people living along the Indus, in a deep, unexplainable way, whatever their religion. This is the secret of “Coke Studio’s” success in Pakistan (together with a great producer and fantastic artists).
This, India does not have — film music is what reaches most Indians’ hearts. It is a different phenomenon and, therefore, the reaction and understanding of “Coke Studio” in India and Pakistan is, and will remain, different.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2012.
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