Coke Studio: Musical voyage through various languages

Published: July 4, 2011
Sajjad Ali and Sanam Marvi-PHOTO: KOHI MARRI

Sajjad Ali and Sanam Marvi-PHOTO: KOHI MARRI

The Sketches. PHOTO: KOHI MARRI Sajjad Ali and Sanam Marvi-PHOTO: KOHI MARRI

The second-last episode of “Coke Studio 4” took its viewers through a musical excursion across Pakistani culture. The latest session featured songs in six different languages including Bhraj, Sindhi, Balochi, Brahvi, Siraiki and Punjabi, other than Urdu. Displaying the cultural significance of music to different ethnicities of the country, the episode was definitely the most musically-rich one of this season, with house band dominating the studio in all songs.

Sajjad Ali and Sanam Marvi: “Rung Laaga”

“Rung Laaga”, an original soundtrack by maestro Sajjad Ali, was restructured for this performance in a collaborative effort by Ali and Sanam Marvi. The song, which was sung in Braj and Punjabi, centres on the symbolic significance of colour in different cultural contexts. The new composition of “Rung Laaga”, which was a very difficult job, was an excellent effort by the house band as they introduced their own classic rock sound to it. The song got trippier towards the end, due to backing vocalists, which made it one of the finest departures in the history of “Coke Studio”.  (10/10)

The Sketches: “Mandh Waai”

Although The Sketches have been around for quite some time, this was essentially their first proper introduction to music listeners worldwide. Under the guidance of the house band, The Sketches proved to be the melodious mascots of Sindhi folk and Sufi poetry as they took one on a musical voyage. The band comprises Saif Samejo and Naeem Shah as the lead vocalist and guitarist respectively. With Samejo’s soothing vocals and the brilliant songwriting by the band, The Sketches are a noteworthy introduction to the mainstream music scene. (9/10)

Akhtar Chanal Zahri: “Nar Bait”

After stunning everyone with his outstanding performance of “Danah Pa Danah” in the first episode, Akhtar Chanaal Zahri returned with vibrant rhythms of Balochistan in the form of “Nar Bait” — a traditional Balochi and Brahvi folk song. The song’s ancient native style of music employed vocal accents in conjunction with percussive elements to enhance the rhythmic pattern of the groove. “Nar Bait” featured catchy rhythms, eventually taking a very funky turn and entering into a pop-rock realm. House band played a crucial role to enhance the sound of Brahvi tune, turning it into a super hit number and making the centuries-old traditional music a part of Pakistani pop culture. (10/10)

Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi: “Pyaar Naal”

Whatever is said or written about the living legend Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi, is insufficient as his contribution to Pakistani music in general and now in “Coke Studio” is incomparable. What else would one like to hear than a heart touching romantic song in Esakhelvi’s engaging voice? And when it combines with contemporary music under the supervision of Rohail Hyatt, the end product is bound to be truly magical. With Esakhelvi’s “Pyaar Naal”, “Coke Studio” epitomised the beauty of Siraiki language by perfectly arranging the soft and catchy melody. The house band set the right mood by enhancing the song with instruments like the accordion (played by Jaffer Zaidi) and the mandolin (played by guest musician Amir Azhar). The overall feel of the song seemed to have put Esakhelvi at ease as he delivered to his fullest without putting much effort on the harmonium and tabla. (10/10)

Komal Rizvi: “Lambi Judai”

Like it or hate it, Komal Rizvi did steal the show this time around by covering legendary Reshma’s cult hit, “Lambi Judaai”. Compared to this episode’s other songs, the singer received the highest number of likes on the Facebook page of “Coke Studio”. With over 14,000 YouTube hits within a single day, these numbers speak volumes about her stellar performance. There will always be comparisons made between the original version by Reshma and this one. Komal actually did a splendid job. Her high-pitched vocals breathed life into the song. What added more flavour to the performance was the music by house band’s keyboard player Jaffer Zaidi. (7/10)

Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (32)

  • Asad
    Jul 4, 2011 - 10:14PM

    ‘Compared to this episode’s other songs, the singer received the highest number of likes on the Facebook page of “Coke Studio”.’ This is because there is no dislike button on facebook also people were ‘liking’ it so that they can write bad comments.Recommend

  • Pakistani Canadian
    Jul 5, 2011 - 7:03AM

    Lowest score is a 7? Seriously? I think Coke Studio has done an amazing job over the 4 years it has existed. However, let’s be realistic. Most songs in this particular episode were far from memorable, and some were very poorly executed. Whoever reviews the Coke Studio should assign a score based on whether or not they will listen to the song again. The higher the number of times they will listen to the song, the greater the score can be. This isn’t kindergarten; let’s stop telling everybody they won!

    Sajjad Ali and Sanam Marvi’s Rung Laaga was a prime example of a poorly executed song. The vocals were bizarrely executed, and completely out of sync with the music. Sanam Marvi is a decent find, but I believe she’s been over used, and all her song choices this season have been gut-wrenchingly boring at best.

    Attaullah is a legend, but he is getting to be quite old. I think the authors of this article are giving him a score based on his fame, rather than on the merits of this song alone. Having said that, this was his best song so far on Coke Studio.

    Chanal Zahri’s song was certainly different. It sounded like Balochi rap! The music was most definitely interesting, and it was a decent song overall, but it could’ve used a better rhythm section. Other than that, it is hard to judge something that is so new to most of us. I don’t think I would listen to this song much, if at all.

    The best song for me had to be the one by The Sketches. The guy has pretty decent vocals, and the house band did a pretty good job of setting a mellow mood. It was a bit on the slow side, but still the best out of everything else on Episode 4 with the most ideal coming together of vocals and music.

    I save my strongest criticism for last. Komal Rizvi, and her rendition of Lambi Judai, was an incredibly poor choice. They allowed her to pick a Reshma song, which now looks like she’s trying to compete with her predecessor, Meesha Shafi, who sang Reshma’s chori chori. The other similarity between the two being that they both sang their respective songs very poorly. These were karaoke renditions and no attempt was made to make the songs unique, or personal. On top of it, both ladies simply do not have the vocal range to sing Reshma songs. Also, Komal Rizvi needs to be coached properly. She has to control her body actions/language. Her arm and hand movements are awkward, bizarre, and quite distracting. Recommend

  • Zohaib
    Jul 5, 2011 - 7:44AM

    Asad. With all due respect for your need to resort to ‘bad comments’, YouTube has a ‘dislike’ button and there are more likes there than dislikes? Poor Komal is just a target for the haters. We saw that when daanay pay daana first came out but the tide shifted over time. Unfortunately she is again a target for the hate mongers. By all means dislike something or someone but to attack her personally is just reflective of very bad taste. We Pakistanis can learn something from the Indians. Just look at the way they support their artists in what seem to be some very average performances at Coke Studio@MTV. This extreme emotional response is evident in everything about us. If we win a cricket match, our players are heros – but what happens to us when they lose a game?

    If you don’t like something, exercise your choice and don’t watch it! But don’t ridicule the ones who do enjoy it and certainly don’t attack the performers personally. How absurd is your suggestion that people click the ‘like’ button because there is no ‘dislike’ there. Do you even make any sense to yourself?Recommend

  • Zia
    Jul 5, 2011 - 9:41AM

    Zohaib, I think what was meant was that facebook likes merely a day after the show shouldn’t govern anything. Shouldn’t take anything away from Komal. But I really do believe Rafay Mahmood should stop authoring articles related to Coke Studio. His last wasn’t too well received and this too.Recommend

  • Adnan
    Jul 5, 2011 - 10:29AM

    @Asad: That is the most stupid reasoning I have ever heard! Nobody needs to press ‘like’ on FaceBook to post a comment. Too much hatred can lead to one becoming a tad bit silly at times…Recommend

  • Maira
    Jul 5, 2011 - 10:35AM

    No one is against Komal Rizvi. But first listen to Chori Chori by Meesha Shafi and Akhiyan Nu Rein Dey by QB, then you will get to know that how poor Komal was. Her voice is definitely melodious, but you are in Coke Studio to give something extraordinary and something different, so that you can have more versions to listen. Examples are Danah pey Danah, Teray Ishq main Jo bhi Doob Gaya, Kunto Maula, Bolo Bolo etc etc. These all songs are unique in their own sense.
    But you cannot see any one of these things in Komal Rizvi. QB would be far far more good choice in my point of view.Recommend

  • Zohaib
    Jul 5, 2011 - 11:06AM

    @Maira: I agree with you about Chori chori but I’m afraid I’m not such a big fan of QB. Does that give me the right to post nasty things about her in her profile or in the song comments – especially at a personal level? What’s being discussed here is if it is justified to personally assault a singer just because you don’t like their effort or song. Being critical is a very different matter. These artists need our encouragement and support for making an effort – which is far more than what a lot of what these haters do.

    I just checked on Facebook and she has over 3000 likes to her song while the songs you like have much fewer. That means a lot of people out there disagree with your opinion. That also suggests something else that just like food, songs are not always to everyones taste. Why are we letting our dislike for a song turn into hatred for a person?

    I’m all for the way you are voicing your opinion and I respect it. My comment was directed at people attacking the artist personally and behaving as if their opinion is the last word on the matter..Recommend

  • Shahrukh kazmi
    Jul 5, 2011 - 12:09PM

    @Pakistani Canadian
    I know its a free world and every one here have a right to give his own opinion but please if you don’t have a sense of music try not comment that is my humble opinion, i may be sounding a bit offended to you but your comment made reply to you like that and try realizing that they work really hard when they compose such music and that song ‘Rang Laaga’ you are talking about was beautifuly composed because it was a song of festival and to make sound it a bit dark is not that easy sir, being a critic is ok but give facts with that and yes please try to respect our so called old musicians you are talking about they are still talented and we want to hear them.
    Thank you.Recommend

  • Zia
    Jul 5, 2011 - 2:45PM

    I may not agree with all that Pakistani Canadian said, what with his tantrums over apparently poor compositions that I missed, I do think he makes a very valid point in terms of how only one song out of five maybe was something I would want to listen to again and again. The others are just a taster of a main course I would not order.Recommend

  • Maira
    Jul 5, 2011 - 3:02PM

    I am not against any one and I really like to encourage upcoming singers. But, I just want to signify a point that if you are given a chance in Coke Studio, then do something extra excellent especially the new guys. Lambi Judai is a song, which even many Indian singers have sung in music competetions and they have done a great job. Sorry to say, but her voice do not do justice with this song. I cannot find a single element of that feeling which is in original song.
    And you mean with 3000 likes that Komal Rizvi is more greater singer than Sajjad Ali or Akhtar Chanal?
    Coke studio should be and is for creative minds who can do wonders to Pakistan music industry and who can leave a mark like Bilal Khan, Mole, The Sketches to name few. Recommend

  • Hassan
    Jul 5, 2011 - 3:17PM

    I think so far this episode has given us the most gratifying music and some of the finest songs of the season. the house band was simply simply amazing. i literally dont have words to bestow my praise towards the band, the mixing was simply fantabulous and the singers were so full of themselves.

    Moreover Coke Studio @ Mtv has made me fell in love with coke studio even more :pRecommend

  • Hassan
    Jul 5, 2011 - 3:19PM

    I think so far this episode has given us the most gratifying music and some of the finest songs of the season. the house band was simply simply amazing. i literally dont have words to bestow my praise towards the band, the mixing was simply fantabulous and the singers were so full of themselves.
    Moreover Coke Studio @ Mtv has made me fell in love with coke studio even more :pRecommend

  • Frank
    Jul 5, 2011 - 3:40PM

    I think komal rizvi was amazing in danay peh danah. She really surprised everyone. I didn’t think she had it in her.Recommend

  • Analyzer
    Jul 5, 2011 - 4:04PM

    To me listening to the songs in episode 4 was like being in a hotel/restaurant lounge with live music. Mediocre, uninspiring stuff. Coke Studio seems to have lost steam. I think they should give it a break for a couple of years and try to get back to the original concept.Recommend

  • Meeru
    Jul 5, 2011 - 4:17PM

    Quratulain Baloch aka QB would have been a better choice instead of ‘The Komal Rizvi’, who sounded flat on high notes.Recommend

  • Zain
    Jul 5, 2011 - 5:43PM

    @Pakistani Canadian: I am sure living in a comfortable place like Canada, you have much to be content about. However, things in Pakistan are a little rocky these days. Coke Studio is that one, rare, thing that makes people happy across the country. If you don’t like it, don’t listen to it. But it is petty to trash the musicians, who still live here, by the way, and despite largely adverse conditions, have managed to come together in a forum to create such stunningly beautiful music. Or, better still, if you can, try and make music that is better than what they produce.Recommend

  • Faheem
    Jul 5, 2011 - 6:31PM

    haha she received the largest ‘likes’ on people because she sang it in urdu which is understood by all pakistanis, and also because there is no dislike button of fb.

    Ridiculous analysis ! Recommend

  • Pakistani Canadian
    Jul 5, 2011 - 6:32PM

    @Shahrukh kazmi:

    I think I have a wonderful sense of music. It is precisely why I wrote such a long comment in the first place. You, on the other hand, have resorted to poorly constructed sentences, and common cliches that are comletely out of context. ‘It’s a free world’? Come on now. Nobody says that anymore. It ain’t even true!

    Rang Lagaa has zero musical value, TO ME. I don’t really care if you’re offended, or how festive you think the song is. If you’re so impressed by a slight change in rhythm, or by an alteration of the mood- even when it doesn’t fit the vocals lyrically, or compositionally, that’s great for you! Be all you can be, man!Recommend

  • Pakistani Canadian
    Jul 5, 2011 - 6:41PM

    You are contradicting yourself. If my ‘tantrums’ over poor compositions were missed by you, why precisely are you not going to be listening to the songs again, save for one?

    Everyone seems all sensitive over this. I don’t feel the need to incessantly pat CS on the back, irrespective of how mediocre they were on a particular song. Coke Studio CAN do better. And they can do even better without brown nosers around patting them on the back out of some flawed sense of patriotism out of which one must support his/her compatriot artists because India does it too. Ridiculous! Recommend

  • Zohaib
    Jul 5, 2011 - 6:57PM

    @Analyzer: Coke Studio is a phenomena around the world with many global awards and almost 30 million views on YouTube! They have just had the most successful season in their 4 year history and Coke should give it up because you think they have lost steam? Good luck with that advise making it into the corporate boardroom. If it does, it’s going to rightfully fall on deaf ears!Recommend

  • Zohaib
    Jul 5, 2011 - 7:15PM

    @Maira: What I mean with ‘over 3000 likes’ is that she is not disliked as much as you’d like to believe she is. The people pressing ‘like’ for her had a choice. And that choice should be respected. How can you judge that someone is better than another? Doesn’t it come down to a personal choice/opinion at the end of the day? You don’t like her, I respect that and I don’t want you to change your opinion about it but how can you force your opinion on others or make a general sweeping statement that she is bad for everyone? Atif has more fans on Facebook than Abida Parveen, Attahullah and perhaps the entire Pakistani music industry. Does that make him a better singer than everyone else? Perhaps not, but he is certainly most liked! So is Komal in her latest performances! Funny thing here is that I’m not a big Komal fan myself. I just feel bad when I see someone getting attacked so viciously as I witnessed on Facebook.

    And, isn’t Coke Studio is for those artists who Coke wants to invite on to their platform? How can you claim that it’s only for a certain kind of artist. If anything, I think Coke Studio has proved that it is a platform for everyone..


  • Jul 5, 2011 - 10:46PM

    In this particular episode Komal Rizvi was “Disastrous”. CS Should have invited the legendary Reshma to recreate the magic or else leave the classic song the way it was. Why not Have some Nazia Hassan numbers for Komal in CS? Y let her ruin such a melodious song?

    Rohail hyatt should consider to have some of the vital signs stuff, Alamgir, Shehki, Nahed Akhtar or Benjamen sisters songs for the next season rather than the inclusion of too much folk and sufi music. Recommend

  • ace
    Jul 6, 2011 - 12:13AM

    The creativity is somehow missing in this season, and the last episode was a perfect example of this. This season there is something lacking, call it soul, but we’re just not feeling it anymore. I’m with @Analyzer on this… time to go back to the drawing board!Recommend

  • Pakistani Canadian
    Jul 6, 2011 - 3:01AM


    So let me get this straight. You resent my opinion because you believe I live in a comfortable place with a lot to be content about? I guess the corollary to that is if I had lived in Pakistan, you would’ve accepted my criticism. Talk about an inferiority complex! haha

    What the hell does my comment have to do with where I live, or how comfortably I live? Are we supposed to believe you are so sanctimonious yourself that you’ve never criticized music from another part of the world? Come back when you’re all grown up. Recommend

  • Adnan
    Jul 6, 2011 - 4:30AM

    @Pakistani Canadian: Rung is one of the most impressive tracks I have ever heard. Perhaps your taste for local music is clouded by your absence from our country? Do us a favor and let us enjoy our art in peace – however bad you may think it is. It’s cynics like you who live outside the country and then trash everything constructive that goes on here. If your opinion is so great, please share one thing that you’ve created and throw it out into the world to judge. Sorry to say but even your analysis is not standing up to popular judgement let alone any work of creativity that you may churn out one day..Learn to criticize, NOT judge! And if you don’t know the difference between the two, take some time out and read up on it. It might do you some good.

    Also, faulting someone for their poor english shows a superiority complex. And writing long messages is supposed to be proof of your superior taste in music? Ridiculous! ;)Recommend

  • Pakistani Canadian
    Jul 6, 2011 - 9:13AM

    If Rung is one of the most impressive track you’ve heard, that’s great for you! I don’t begrudge you your opinion. However, you seem to begrudge me mine. For someone trying to preach to me the difference between criticizing and judging, what exactly do you think you just did with your post? You’re taking my screen handle and concluding that not only am I not Pakistani enough, my musical taste is clouded by my absence from the country. How you determined how long I’ve been absent is something only you can answer. But clearly you ought to clean your closet before deciding to come out of it ;)

    And faulting someone for HIS or HER (not ‘their’) poor english doesn’t show a superiority complex. It shows that you should learn to communicate before you ‘attempt’ to preach to someone, or ridicule someone else’s opinion. I have no problem with anyone disagreeing with the contents of my post. However, what I will not stand for, is anybody who has a problem with me posting at all.

    As to whether or not my analysis is standing up to ‘popular judgement’; I did not post my comment for popularity. I expressed my opinion because that is how I feel, and I’m still here because I stand by my opinion. If you care so much about your online popularity, I feel sorry for you.Recommend

  • Shahrukh kazmi
    Jul 6, 2011 - 10:00AM

    @Pakistani Canadian:
    or how festive you think the song is
    This is not what i think this is what the producer of Coke Studio think go and see the BTS of this song and i am sure you don’t know more than him.Recommend

  • Zain
    Jul 6, 2011 - 2:06PM

    @Pakistan Canadian: I concede that you have a right to your opinion, as I do to mine. It’s a democracy, and you have every right to be as cynical and pessimistic as you wish. I look forward to the day when you will make music that will teach these incompetent Coke Studio musicians how to do things right.Recommend

  • Adnan
    Jul 6, 2011 - 7:08PM

    @Pakistani Canadian: LOL! It’s quite obvious that all you can churn out is negativity for everyone who disagrees with your ‘cynicism’. Guiding you to learn the difference between passing judgement and being critical was a waste of time. I admit my mistake. Please carry on with the way you are. I will exhibit my tolerance for your cynical attitude. Please never change. My apologies if I offended you. It’s obvious that a cynic will suffer great anguish over trivial matters and that in itself is the price one pays to harbor such sentiments. I hope you feel better about things in time. Really, good luck.

    And if you are any example of what happens to someone once they have learned to communicate ‘properly’, I’ll happily stick to my thaki hui angreezi. It’s a bit sad that language skills don’t come packaged with some basic ethics.. Go read your original post again and see what a wonderful gift you are to mankind. Your contribution to a better world under the guise of ‘opinion’. Wow! Very impressive..Recommend

  • Ammar
    Jul 6, 2011 - 8:57PM

    @ Pak canadian

    Sorry but you have no sense of music. Youre actually embarrasing urself here!
    Meesha shafi was bad at chori chori?
    Wow. Thats something new!
    So wat if attaullah is old! Look at lata etc they r still da legend n top. So if someone is Promoting their regional lang/songs try to support plz.Recommend

  • hmmm
    Jul 8, 2011 - 1:16PM

    “Brilliant song-writing” by the Sketches? Are you feeling ok? Please check your facts before you write an article, otherwise you’re totally unfit to be an arts reporter. All the song-writing was done a few hundred years ago by Shah Latif, the song is patently from his Risalo.
    “song’s ancient native style of music” – what a funny way to describe Nar Bait! Where are the commas, where is the punctuation? more importantly, where is the SENSE in these glib-sounding know-it-all phrases? What ARE the editors on this forum doing?
    And frankly, the idea of rating the songs on a scale of 10, its funny to imagine the writer as any kind of authority. He should make it clear that the rating is his “humble” opinion, based on his personal likes and dislikes, like other, better reviewers do.Recommend

  • Mubeen
    Jul 17, 2011 - 12:52AM

    For the love of God, please stop writing such pathetic reviews. Believe me, we would be highly grateful to you and it will be your great contribution and service to music and art.


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