Fuzon bashes ‘Coke Studio @ MTV’

Published: August 1, 2011
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Fuzon’s Shallum Xavier and Emu are not happy with Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan’s version of “Akhian” for “Coke Studio @ MTV”. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY

Fuzon’s Shallum Xavier and Emu are not happy with Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan’s version of “Akhian” for “Coke Studio @ MTV”. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY

Fuzon’s Shallum Xavier and Emu are not happy with Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan’s version of “Akhian” for “Coke Studio @ MTV”. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY Fuzon’s Shallum Xavier and Emu are not happy with Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan’s version of “Akhian” for “Coke Studio @ MTV”. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY Fuzon’s Shallum Xavier and Emu are not happy with Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan’s version of “Akhian” for “Coke Studio @ MTV”. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY
KARACHI: 

Think of Pakistan’s pop music scene and bands like Fuzon will automatically come to mind. Fuzon’s tracks like “Ankhon Ke Saagar”, “Tere Bina”, “Akhian” and “Khamaj” took the South Asian music scene by storm. However, after Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan left the band to pursue his solo career, Fuzon could not live up to the standard set by their debut album Saagar but fans still remember the unique sound of “Ankhian”, which revolutionised Pakistani music.

After being played on music channels in Pakistan for a decade, the song was recently redone in India’s “Coke Studio @ MTV”, sung by Khan — the original vocalist of the song.

The video has been uploaded on YouTube, and comments seem to reflect the association listeners had with the original version. Fuzon fans have been bashing the producer of “Coke Studio @ MTV”, Leslie Lewis for taking away the originality of the song. These opinions are seconded by the composers of the song, Shallum Xavier and Emu, who think the song was “torture” to listen to.

“I am speechless. In fact, I cannot utter the words that I would actually like to because they have simply ripped apart the whole song. I don’t know what the producer was thinking when he decided to turn a pure rock song into a reggae song, and that to a bad one,” says Emu while talking to The Express Tribune.

Adding to this, Emu explains that a song like “Akhian” cannot be changed into reggae, unlike tracks like “Khamaj” and “Tere Bina”, which can remain similar to their original versions even when given a reggae feel.

Shallum Xavier says: “In any case, I didn’t have high expectations from ‘Coke Studio @ MTV’, but this was just a horrible version of ‘Akhian’.”

While both agree that the song was a huge disappointment, they disagree on who is to blame. Xavier says that it is the fault of both the artist and producer, but Emu believes that it is the producer who is to be blamed. The artist is appreciative of his former bandmate, saying: “I think Shafqat did a good job with the vocals and added a few alaaps to make the song sound different, but the producer’s arrangement was not up to the mark. This [rendition] was not expected to come from Leslie Lewis who has produced decent music when in the Colonial Cousins”

Reflecting on the choice of a song like “Akhian”, Emu wonders why it was picked up when Khan has recorded a number of solo tracks, including the hit track “Mitwa”. The artist believes that “Akhian” did not need to be redone, since it is already close to contemporary music. “Songs from the album Saagar are evergreen melodies and even if you listen to them today after so many years they sound fresh, unlike many run-of-the-mill songs,” says Emu.

The artist believes that the “Coke Studio @ MTV” version of “Akhian” will have a negative impact on Fuzon’s standing. “The Pakistani pop music industry is already dying and if a venture like ‘Coke Studio @MTV’  has the capability of converting great melodies into half-hearted fusion attempts, then at the end of the day it’s a Fuzon’s track that is suffering and it’s our  fans who are disliking it,” says Emu.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2011.

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Reader Comments (33)

  • Aug 1, 2011 - 9:49PM

    LOL…I heard that too it was terrible.. and more than artist its producer to be blamed for it!
    I mean Come on Rohail Hayar is definitely responsible for perfectly organizing Coke Studio every time..
    Coke Studio is a pure Pakistani thing dude!!

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  • lol
    Aug 1, 2011 - 9:57PM

    Tight! atleast someone spoke against Leslie:P

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  • Pakistani in US
    Aug 1, 2011 - 10:51PM

    Why is that all these musicians always saying Pakistani music industry is dying — when in fact it’s seems to be brimming with happening bands on the contrary. They should say it’s not financially viable (under current political climate) to do commercial music but plainly putting it as a dying industry is misleading.

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  • Pakistani Canadian
    Aug 1, 2011 - 11:28PM

    I just listened to the track, and I have a few comments;

    For the writer of this article; how precisely did Akhian ‘revoluntionised Pakistani music’? Perhaps you can expand on where, and when exactly that particular track had influences? From where I’m sitting, it sounds like a cliche` that seemed too good not to use. The number of times our writers throw that word around, one would think there is a revolution going on in Pakistan in some area or the other every minute of the day.
    Shafqat sounds quite good. In fact, he seems to have put in more effort on this appearance, than he did on our own Coke Studio.
    They can claim it is a raggae track, but it doesn’t really sounds very raggae, unless sitar is a common instrument used in raggae music! The track actually has a lounge feel, with a slow beat and tempo. Unfortunately, the lyrics have a faster tempo. Because of the difference in tempo, the song sounds bizarre. Also, the backing vocalists seem to have been put in just for the sake of having them in there. Poor effort overall.
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  • Pakistani Canadian
    Aug 1, 2011 - 11:35PM

    @toobahatif:

    Don’t pat yourself on the back too much. The Coke studio concept is not ours in origin. Brazil started the very first one, and called it Coca Cola Studio. Rohail has done a fantastic job of it in Pakistan, and hopefully he can continue in the same vein in the future. However, I don’t see what’s so wrong if India wants to have their own version of it, based on the Pakistani one. If anything, it is a compliment to Rohail and his team, and an acknowledgement of their success.

    As bad as this track was, it isn’t like every song out of our own Coke Studio was stellar. In fact, it was always pretty hit and miss. Anybody remember Aunty Disco Project, or Komal Rizvi? I’m sure Coke Studio @ MTV will get better as they find their own identity.

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  • Raj
    Aug 2, 2011 - 12:52AM

    @Pakistani Canadian – My applause to you friend. Waiting for a day when majority of the subcontinental population will think and speak like you. The present environment does not support much for a nation to nation friendship or even socio-cultural exchange. But then given the current situation that should be second or third in priority. First we need to learn to respect and provide space to each other as two human beings will do.

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  • GetRidOfFeudalPolitics
    Aug 2, 2011 - 2:26AM

    quit the coke studio @ mtv bashing. give them time. be happy that finally we have something they followed rather than us following their movies, songs, tv all the time.

    the last para was ridiculous. did they really say that?

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  • Pakistani Pakistani
    Aug 2, 2011 - 2:47AM

    @Pakistani Canadian: Did you ever listen to Coca Cola studio of Brazil? It was nothing like CS Pakistan! Coca Cola studio consisted of Unplugged Music performed in front of Audiences! It was kind of like MTV Unplugged.The Audio was very poor in Coca Cola Brazil.It was a very average kind of a show which did not do very well and hence only lasted for two seasons.On the other hand,Pakistani CS revolutionised Coke Studio and gave it the Standard it has today.The entire concept of mixing eastern and western music was set by Coke Studio Pakistan and it instantly was a big hit.The only poor performance according to me in Coke Studio Pakistan was of ADP. Coke Studio India kind of ripped of the entire musical concept from Coke Studio Pakistan and ruined it in every possible way!The approach taken by them was Awful! The girls at the chorus who rarely sing,the fake smiles on the faces of the house band,awful lighting and poor audio and a very commercial approach! The only good performance was the performance by Papon(The Assamese singer).. Other then that,they literally killed it!
    In Short,India was inspired by the Pakistani Coke Studio(not the Brazilian one) and started there own and disappointed good music fans.

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  • Khalid Ahmed
    Aug 2, 2011 - 2:54AM

    Coke Studio is a ‘franchise’ owned by Coca Cola, which most Pakistanis fail to understand. They think that Pakistan holds the patent of Coke Studio and that India is illegally copying it.

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  • Pakistani Canadian
    Aug 2, 2011 - 6:22AM

    @Pakistani in US:

    It is a dying industry because we have very weak copyright laws, that aren’t even enforced. If you’re an artist in Pakistan, you have to sing in concerts half the year to be able to support future projects. There is hardly any money to be made from albums because anybody can copy them, and sell them as they please. It is because of this that some of our best talent, like Shafqat, Atif Aslam, Strings, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, etc have to cross the border in India to earn money.

    The biggest reason we don’t bother to make our copyright laws more stringent? Because it hurts the Indian Bollywood industry, and no politician wants to close down a way of giving India the shaft. It would be ‘unpatriotic’. The result is that there is very little money in the music industry to improve ourselves, or to encourage more people to consider being a musician. Considering the sheer amount of talent that has come out of Pakistan in the last two decades, we should’ve been miles ahead in state-of-the-art studios, production engineers, etc. Alas…

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  • Pakistani Canadian
    Aug 2, 2011 - 8:25AM

    @Pakistani Pakistani:
    Were you aware that the first season of Coke Studio was performed in front of a live audience? They switched to private studio sessions in the second season. I never said India was inspired by the Brazilian CS; in fact, I stated very explicitly that India’s version is based on our CS. I also never said our CS was the same as Brazil’s. Clearly the cultures are too different, and Brazil’s version was made to tailor to their music. However, surely you can understand that the name and the concept (i.e. artists singing with a house band that is then televised) are the same. As such, our CS was inspired from the Brazilian version. What Rohail has done with it, is what suits our culture, and our music. If India’s version is very similar to ours, it is because we are culturally a lot closer than Brazil is to either country. if India’s version is as bad as you say it is, then fine. It too will be pulled like the Brazilian version. Why the fuss, or the patriotic chest thumping over a tv show?

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  • Indian in US
    Aug 2, 2011 - 8:33AM

    @Pakistani in US:
    I first, second, third and … hundred and one your observation.
    Sometimes, I think, these kalamwallahs just need to ‘vent’ their
    conspiracy theories. Pitiful and misleading, to say the very least.
    Pakistani Pop Music is doing very well … not just that,
    they are experimenting with a great deal of involvement,
    thanks (ironically) partly to the lack of extreme pressures of commercialism.
    Whereas, Indian Pop Music is mostly banal … thanks (ironically) totally,
    because of the extreme pressures of … er … commercialism.
    Take a simple example … go to the Coke Studio Pakistan site,
    and every song’s mp3 is available for free / gratis.
    You can download one and all … and memorialize those notes forever.
    Then take a stroll over to the Coke Studio @ MTV (a.k.a. ‘Double Jeopardy’);
    and see nothing but feckless ‘previews’ and then after puttering about,
    jump to YouTube in desperation and after 17 searches with various
    keywords, see grainy videos of the most hugely disappointing videos/performances.
    So, yes indeed, Mera Bharat Mahan. But, when it comes to pop music,
    Coke Studio Pakistan Zindabad. Now, please throw the rose bouquets, my way.

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  • Siddharth Sharma
    Aug 2, 2011 - 8:41AM

    To be very frank with you, I think Pakistani CS is far better then its Indian counterpart.I love Sufiyana qalams and music and I guess the Pakistani CS has got a touch of Sufism in it.

    I love it!!

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  • janam
    Aug 2, 2011 - 9:03AM

    Thankyou fuzon for waking up at the right time!

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  • Frank
    Aug 2, 2011 - 11:20AM

    PakistaniCanadian

    However, surely you can understand
    that the name and the concept (i.e.
    artists singing with a house band that
    is then televised) are the same

    You yourself don’t seem to be able to understand that the name of Coke Studio was borrowed by Pakistan from Brazil but the Pakistani concept of Coke Studio is entirely original, and really quite amazing. This is some of the best music being produced anywhere in the world these days.

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  • abhi
    Aug 2, 2011 - 12:06PM

    @Frank
    Good joke!

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  • sumeet
    Aug 2, 2011 - 12:52PM

    regarding band fuzon and their song,shafqat after leaving the band told in an interview that he alone was the band member in true sense.he used to compose music,and made musical arragments on all his songs.he told about his band member that they simply dont know music i. e even simple ragas,so how can they compose music?They only assisted shafqat.and i must say shafqat was the true soul of fuzon.so why the fuss?afterall its shafqat’s hard work and they want their share of cake.

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  • mulla omer
    Aug 2, 2011 - 1:15PM

    but music is haram

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  • Frank
    Aug 2, 2011 - 1:17PM

    abhi,

    The lyrics are by great Punjabi, Sindhi etc poets, the singers are mostly classically trained masters of the kafi form and the music production is by Rohail Hyat,. Where else in the world is there such an awesome combination? There many great songs but for me Sachal Sarmast’s Sighra Aween Sawal Yaar and Khwaja Ghulam Farid’s Hussn-e-Haqqiqi are just mind blowing.

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  • Dee
    Aug 2, 2011 - 1:25PM

    You guys really have a lot of spare time on your hands.

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  • xohaib
    Aug 2, 2011 - 1:47PM

    @ all
    lets learn to appreciate good music , rather comparing who is better n who is not. n to support dying industry , it comes to all of us to support the people who give us some great tracks. otherwise it ll die for sure.

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  • Indian in US
    Aug 2, 2011 - 1:58PM

    And to those, who still aren’t convinced about the beauty of Pakistani Pop output,
    why is it that a song like Yahaan, without the usual word salad of,
    pyaar, iqraar, beqaraar, taqraar and faraar … don’t emanate with matching notes,
    from India’s stable of pop groups? Really, let’s give credit where it is due.
    Artists give their best to their creation and audience. We must return that effort.

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  • from india
    Aug 2, 2011 - 3:06PM

    Please criticise CS India because of its performance and not by comparing it with CS Pak. Be a true music lover !!

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  • tanya
    Aug 2, 2011 - 3:39PM

    there you go again dear Rafay

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  • Narendra Modi
    Aug 2, 2011 - 5:21PM

    mullah omer

    but music is haram

    so are hindus.

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  • billu barber
    Aug 2, 2011 - 6:11PM

    Guys pls kick lesli lewis out I am pretty sure himesh Reshamiya can do a better job

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  • Ozymandias
    Aug 2, 2011 - 7:10PM

    @Indian in US:

    *Throws rose bouquet

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  • Pakistani in US
    Aug 3, 2011 - 12:03AM

    @Indian in US:
    Pakistan music industry kinda sneaked up on it’s people and it’s obviously not a miracle. It’s hard work of some amazing bands in the last two decades that helped build it (rather naively without any commercial aspirations). Part of the reason is the mass availability of cheap technology, these music producers don’t need fancy studios to be creative. Most of it is done on low end macs with basic recording equipment. So it’s almost the purest form of their expression. So I believe no matter what happens in Pakistan politically, the music industry (if I may call it one without offending the artists :) is not going to die contrary to popular claim. It may be dying financially but that’s another discussion. The reason these artists are disappointed is because they witnessed a great period of prosperity and bit of commercialization under Musharraf era and comparatively current times are extremely tough.

    Well my friend, I am optimistic about many things but there so much hate in the subcontinent that I don’t think we are going to see any change in our lifetime at least. You are just an anomaly.

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  • Indian in US
    Aug 3, 2011 - 8:12AM

    @Pakistani in US:
    Music (to those amongst us who couldn’t string two notes together), is a miracle.
    And the Pakistani bands are wonderfully good at it.
    I would beg to differ that a Mac is a ‘low end’ machine (or cheap) :)
    I was speaking to a friend in India today, who is also, like myself,
    a hardcore fan of the Coke Studio Pakistan.
    We had a good chat as to why the CSP is such a phenomenon,
    whereas CSM is such a pandemonium.
    My interpretation is that Pakistanis have a need to define a unique identity.
    And they are trying to do it in many spheres, but the ones where they are
    succeeding best is one that is best on low financial barriers and high
    individual enterprise and endeavour. So sports for example; Cricket, Hockey, Squash.
    And music … consider that Pakistani musicians have always pushed the envelope.
    From Nazia/Zoeb Hassan (still the best) through Junoon / Strings/ Fuzon / Noorie etc.
    Though all art needs patrons. It is inescapable. But an excess of benefactors,
    creates a feeding frenzy … quickly morphs into commercialization and actually
    induces a sameness. A consistency that verges on a cliche and lack of creativity.
    For all its lacking in financial muscle power, Pakistani music has been amazing.
    Vis a vis that Indian music has actually stagnated. Lata Mangeshkar says so!
    And my friend and I could only blame the overly commercialised milieu for that.
    But, help us understand, why, when Pakistani music is popular in other parts of
    South Asia, is it unable to attract the same degree of financial success at home?
    Young people thrive on music. Pakistan has a large number of youth, whose
    aspirations must necessarily be channeled through music … where is the gap?
    About the hate in the subcontinent. I have always stated, that considering the
    history of other antagonisms in other parts of the world, the blip that was the
    carnage of partition, affected but a very small part of South Asia’s total population.
    For us to carry this albatross around on our own dead carcass, is to capitulate,
    our goodwill on an altar of self-annihilation.. (I write like that sometimes …
    it reminds me of the famous writer, I will never be.). You said your are optimistic,
    about many things. Try being optimistic about change in our lifetime.
    It might actually happen. Then none of us will be an anomaly. Play on. Enjoy!

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  • Pakistani in US
    Aug 3, 2011 - 9:57AM

    Wow that was quite an expression. I hope you’re right for peace sake, but what I have noticed is exactly opposite. With accessibility of so much information in this age/time, people are getting more venomous towards each other by day. And politician capitalize on that. It’s hard to expect anything to change with that sort of mind set. Some famous American think tank said that indo-pak conflict would last for another 100 years. (Although I am not going for that as you know Americans usually suck at these things). But Anyway the reason why music is not making any money in Pakistan is first and foremost the security situation. Concerts get canceled, media events/new projects get shelved, people are not happy, divide between rich/poor is widening and all of that takes toll on a common man to spend money on entertainment. So there, drop in sale of music album and no events makes everyone bitter. And then you hear over simplified statements like “Music industry is dying”. TV and part of music business is still doing great as there are some big investors but they are too far and few (one of which is obviously coke). I feel for these artist for what they have to deal with to keep going. If they get a stable environment like US/India, all this talent can really shine brighter. Ali zafar, strings and atif were all launched when Pakistan GDP was hitting 8 percent. Every artist needs a platform and with current situation there aren’t many available.

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  • billy jean
    Aug 3, 2011 - 12:33PM

    Dude, Leslie should start singing hymns with Hariharan again,it an insult to Paki pop

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  • Frank
    Aug 3, 2011 - 1:03PM

    Indian in US

    My interpretation is that Pakistanis
    have a need to define a unique
    identity.

    Nope. Go listen to the masterpieces of both poetry and music on coke studio by Bullah Shah, Shah Latif, Sachal Sarmast, Shah Hussain etc etc. These people lived centuries ago and they already define our unique identity. How many in Indian Bengal or UP listen to the Kafis of Shah Hussain?

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  • Nabil
    Aug 17, 2011 - 10:55PM

    Indian Music has great artists just like in Pakistani Music industry – The only difference is the commercialization of the music. In Indian Industry any song can be sold for millions of Ruppes for instance ” ISHQ KAMINA” and many of them which are not quality productions in terms of music, arrangement, lyrics, compositions and etc etc- now you don’t call that music. Upcoming artists in India are getting inspirations from these low level productions. Supposedly, Now how can someone be inspired by Lata when he has not heard of the real Lata, but the Lata he heard was from the senses of Producers. Why India’s MTV Coke studio is going down and down? Just like this song – Look at the arrangement and composition of this song, its pathetic and everyone know, even those who are defending it as pure lounge track and bla bla.

    I am not saying that Indian Artists are fake or bla bla. NO SIR . great producers, great vocalists ,great poetry and musicians. But all there is no Producer with the sense of Music!

    On the contrary Pakistan’s artists like to keep Vintage sound, originality everywhere, giving true feel of music in every sense till the final production. That’s what Rohail did.

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