Facebook tells me that many of those who like Coke Studio are conformist sheep, really. You know how Facebook has this magnificent suggestions thing going in which it runs its super-smart algorithms to tell you what your friends like, in the hope that you’ll like it too? Well, I decided to play along and see what this was all about after getting annoyed by a constant barrage of suggestions along the lines of “Many of your friends who like Coke Studio also like…” (Yes, I like Coke Studio on Facebook. In my defence, Ali Hamza is irresistibly cute and my current man-crush.)
As it turns out, people who like Coke Studio, amongst my friends, also like things as diverse as Pervez Musharraf, Zaid Hamid, Junaid Jamshed, 3 Idiots (the movie, not the previous three personalities, who are obviously not idiots. Duh.), Imran Khan (do you know Sony Entertainment Television recently ran a “Become the 4th idiot” contest?), Ufone, Top Pops, gol gappay, Nestle Fruita Vitals, and a delightfully named Facebook page, “Oye, extra pen hai?”.
In this piece, I will try to analyse why Coke Studio fans are partial towards some of the entities mentioned above. Let me begin with Pervez Musharraf.
Musharraf is the reason Coke Studio exists. Had he not toppled Nawaz Sharif’s fumbling, tumbling Humpty-Dumpty-sat-on-a-wall government, pop and rock stars in Pakistan would still be writing boring, meaningful, mildly catchy songs about accountability and consequently getting banned on television. By setting free the powerful forces of enlightened moderation to guide us towards gleaming progress, he set in motion the wheels that eventually led to Meesha Shafi singing on national television clad in, of all things, jeans. Coke Studio, obviously, is the progeny of Musharraf sahab’s visionary thinking, thereby explaining why they have many fans in common.
Zaid Hamid’s case is even simpler. Coke Studio is Pakistan’s answer to AR Rehman. And as we know by now, nothing pleases Hamid’s hilariously passionate supporters more than us getting one up on India. That too an India made famous by a treacherous Muslim like Rahman, whose forefathers were probably too lazy (more likely too poor or indifferent) to migrate to the pure land back at the time of the Big Bang.
On the other hand, I honestly cannot for the life of me understand what Junaid Jamshed and Coke Studio have in common besides a) Rohail Hyatt being sugar daddy for both; and b) only the rich kids who can afford his kurtas to wear at Eids and their cousins’ Mehndi celebrations are actually into Coke Studio.
I am similarly confounded by the seemingly disparate nature of gol gappay and Nestle Fruita Vitals. I am inclined to hypothesise the following: while the Coke Studio-savvy crowd has obviously become health and brand conscious, and thus relies on premium-priced fruit juice to quench its thirst and replenish its vitamins after a grueling gym session, it still appreciates the quaint, sarak chhaap charm of the occasional plate of gol goppas to feel connected to the pure land’s delights on offer. However, I am certain the irony of paying Rs100 for a sanitised, upscale version of such traditional delicacies at places like Chatkharay is lost on us.
The writer blogs at Gulbadan.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2010.
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