Coke Studio India: For true fans of music
The Indian version of the hit series is excellent! It is the first effort to bring folk music to the mainstream.
I have never seen the Pakistani version of Coke Studio, and had no expectations from the Indian version. What I knew from the promos was that this is a bold attempt from MTV to bring back to its fore what it originally stood for - quality music. It did not disappoint.
For all the talk about the comparison of the Indian version with its Pakistani counterpart, I do not think the comparison is fair as both the cultures are diverse and rich and hence, the music emanating from both has a different soul to it.
What I loved about Coke Studio @ MTV is that this is the first commercial attempt to bring folk music to the mainstream in India. India’s folk music is a treasure trove waiting to be tapped and appreciated throughout the world. All four regions boast of different cultures, sounds and experiences and all combine to result in great music.
The format is also excellent wherein they have popular Bollywood singers along with folk singers. This is a good way to ensure that even the average music lover watches the show. And the best part about the show is the non-Bollywoodisation of the songs. Justice has been done to the folk songs and the essence of the songs is maintained.
My personal favourite is “Yaar Basainda,” a wonderful collaboration of Punjabi Sufi folk and Carnatic music, sung by Tochi Raina and Mathangi Rajshekhar. Tochi’s raw voice combined with Mathangi’s melodious singing makes for an unusual but great pairing. The song also has a rock feel to it.
Shankar Mahadevan, who undersings in Bollywood for his talent, along with Assamese singer Khagen Gogoi, combines two regional songs, “Tip Top” and “Me Dolkar.” The song is good to listen to but the vocals of both the singers don’t really combine seamlessly.
“Vethalai,” sung by Chinnaponnu and Kailash Kher, has a groovy tune to it and the Tamil singer sure makes her presence felt. The instruments used are indigenous which add to the feel of the song.
Personally, I was a little disappointed by Sunidhi Chauhan and KK, both highly gifted singers. KK’s low-scale singing is a little bit of a disappointment when he joins the Sabri brothers for “Chadhta Suraj.” The essence of the wonderful qawwali seems to drown somewhere.
Sunidhi too, doesn’t challenge herself too much when she croons “Bichua” with Bondo. Although the young singer is a powerhouse, the song leaves much to be desired.
Shaan does a decent job along with Saurav Moni in their rendition of RD Burman’s famous “Maajhi Re.” What stand out are the flute interludes in the song.
The final song “Hoo” sung by Harshdeep Kaur in her soulful voice marks a perfect ending to episode one of CokeStudio@MTV.
One of the minuses of the show was the instrumentation which could have been done better at various places. Also, the quick camera cuts prove to be an eyesore. The producers of the show can also contemplate giving subtitles to the songs. It will help the viewers understand and appreciate the songs better.
All in all, the show is a great step by MTV to bring Coke Studio to India. Kudos to Leslie Lewis too. Yes, it is a risk giving so much air-time to non-regular singers or non-film music but it is well worth it.
The average music lover may or may not like it but the true music fan definitely will.