India’s ‘Coke Studio’ raises the bar with new season

Published: July 20, 2012
First two episodes eclipse the entire fifth season of its Pakistani counterpart. PHOTO: COKE STUDIO @ MTV

First two episodes eclipse the entire fifth season of its Pakistani counterpart. PHOTO: COKE STUDIO @ MTV

First two episodes eclipse the entire fifth season of its Pakistani counterpart. PHOTO: COKE STUDIO @ MTV First two episodes eclipse the entire fifth season of its Pakistani counterpart. PHOTO: COKE STUDIO @ MTV First two episodes eclipse the entire fifth season of its Pakistani counterpart. PHOTO: COKE STUDIO @ MTV

While India’s “Coke Studio @ MTV” was the recipient of much criticism last year for its abominable music, this year’s Indian music producers have delivered a gem to silence the critics.

The spectacular comeback shows improvement in the quality of music produced, as well as the songs, setting a new standard of brilliance for this programme. As expected, producer Leslie Lewis is no longer on board. Instead of just one producer spearheading the project (like Rohail Hyatt does in Pakistan), there is a variety of 12 producers working on five songs each. The list of producers includes: Amit Trivedi, Karsh Kale, Clinton Cerejo, Nitin Sawhney, Shantanu Moitra, Hitesh Sonic, Ehsaan and Loy, Hari Sukhmani, Agam, Dhruv Sangari, Jalebee Cartel with Shilpa Rao and Papon.

Of the two episodes released, one has been produced by Cerejo and the other by Sonic — both proving their virtuosity in their individual manners. Before we pick and choose our favourites from the two episodes, we must extend a note of appreciation to the “Coke Studio @ MTV” team for bringing together an exciting mix of veterans and youngsters as producers and allowing them to truly experiment with musicians. One can humbly conclude that the first two episodes of the Indian counterpart have outperformed the entire fifth season of Pakistan’s “Coke Studio”. While India’s new format is a positive sign that music is being produced in the subcontinent as a whole, it also serves as a wakeup call for producers and musicians at home to experiment and add diversity to what has become a generic and typical sound.

Call for new Pakistani producers

“Coke Studio @ MTV” is a great example of how the sound of an entire season can drastically change. In the name of diversity, our “Coke Studio” should consider other probable producers to enrich the musical show further. Rohail Hyatt may be a musical genius who has pulled off five incredible seasons, but he is now running out of steam and the quality of the latest season reflects that. From Shahi Hasan of Vital Signs to the likes of Faisal Rafi, Mekaal Hasan, Immu, Faraz Anwar and Amir Zaki, Pakistan still has a good number of people who could be given a chance, if not with an entire episode then at least with a couple of songs in the upcoming seasons.

List of our favourites

Madari: Brilliant melody

Clinton Cerejo combines the vocals of the well-known Vishal Dadlani from the Vishal/Shekhar duo and the mesmerising Sonu Kakar to give us an incredible melody this season.  This song will make you sing and dance and also proves to be one of the most contemporary takes on the legendary Bulleh Shah.

Allah Hoo: Gives you goose bumps

The combination of Jyoti Nooran and Sultana Nooran gives us a deadly duo to look out for, accompanied by the musical genius of Hityesh Sonic. This song takes you on an unimaginable and unforgettable journey.

Husna: Post-partition love story

This soulful track sings the story of someone who’s beloved went to Pakistan after the 1947 partition, with Piyush Mishra’s voice adding the needed nostalgia and melancholy to the tale.

Chadd De: Vocal brilliance

Master Saleem, the singer of this beautifully penned song makes everything seem effortless yet brilliant.

Mauje Naina: Jazzing it up

This number is by far the most interesting fusion of the season so far, where Bianca Gomes and the Altamash brothers engage in a greatly convincing dialogue through music.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2012.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (48)

  • Dont take me to funky town
    Jul 20, 2012 - 10:27PM

    Thank you for your personal opinion.


  • Dr Waqas
    Jul 20, 2012 - 11:25PM

    Coke studio Pakistan will always outstrip coke studio india no matter how much the latter improves


  • hmm
    Jul 21, 2012 - 12:10AM

    havent heard the indian coke studio yet, but ET has been very Anti-CokeStudio Pakistan this time around. with base less reviews from the very first episode of Season 5, it keeps going on..


  • Faraz
    Jul 21, 2012 - 12:20AM

    No comparison to the coke studio Pakistan but still better then previous coke studio india season.
    While the use of 12 producers shows that they are lacking with legends like Rohail Hayat…


  • hamza khan
    Jul 21, 2012 - 12:26AM

    what a nonsense article…season 5 was amazing…anyone who wishes can go see the number of views for ‘charkha naulakha’ and decide for themselves. rohail hyatt deserves every bit of coke studio fame going forward.


  • Indi-Pop
    Jul 21, 2012 - 12:37AM

    I am really happy Coke Studio @MTV is producing such incredible music this season. Piyush Mishra has been an absolute revelation. I had only heard him before as the singer of “Duniya” in Gulaal. His number ‘Husna’ is absolutely fantastic. I have been playing it over and over again. I can feel such multiple emotions of love, pain and desperation in this song. Truly incredulous! Half of the views of this song on youtube are probably because of me. :)


  • Mudassir
    Jul 21, 2012 - 12:46AM

    Looks like a paid article.


  • Adnan
    Jul 21, 2012 - 2:00AM

    This is not the patriotic Pakistani in me speaking but I’ve seen the episodes of the new Indian Coke Studio season and there’s no way they have eclipsed the recently concluded Pakistani season. Indians have improved many, many levels from last year and now their songs are worth listening but this Coke Studio Pakistan season was amazing, not the best of the five, but amazing. Chakwalis’ all three songs, Meesha Shafi’s Dasht-e-tanhai, Fareed Ayaz’s Khabaram Raseeda etc. were in no way “eclipsed”.


  • dude
    Jul 21, 2012 - 2:46AM

    Finally some one in the Paki media had the guts to challenge Rohails Monoply.Coke is no longer fizzy


  • Karachiite
    Jul 21, 2012 - 3:09AM

    The original Coke Studio (Pakistani) khappay! Copycat na khappay!


  • Salman
    Jul 21, 2012 - 3:38AM

    “…first two episodes of the Indian counterpart have outperformed the entire fifth season of Pakistan’s “Coke Studio”.

    …seriously?entire season?


  • Indi-Pop
    Jul 21, 2012 - 5:08AM

    @Dr Waqas: Why so insecure, mate? Can’t both Pakistani and Indian Version perform well together?


  • khirad
    Jul 21, 2012 - 5:18AM

    All Paki patriots, learn to respect and honour talent if it comes from a place which you are meant to hate for no good reason.Listen to music don’t find identities in melodies.Accept that Rohail did a bad job this time around and they have nailed it!!!!!


  • musician
    Jul 21, 2012 - 5:24AM


    not really baseless… the songs suck. nothing new, nothing fresh


  • musician
    Jul 21, 2012 - 5:28AM

    @Dr Waqas:

    no need to get emotional and patriotic… pakistani coke studio has some gems. but this indian one has literally blown us out of the water. its a wakeup call for rohayl. make way for new people and promote them for Gods sake.

    india expands its producers for more creative flow-juicing

    pakistan gives franchize to one man, one man show with his tuchhas as a team. tunnel vision.


  • Knotty
    Jul 21, 2012 - 8:08AM

    Charha Naulakha song eclipse whole 2 episoes of CS India!!


  • Maddy
    Jul 21, 2012 - 9:03AM

    Coke Studio India…..bas theek hai…seriously nothing “shockingly good” or “soul grasping”. I feel that this is what sets apart the two versions. Indian versions seems to be improving with good vocals but somehow the ‘soul’ is still missing. just saying.


  • Zaki
    Jul 21, 2012 - 11:26AM

    Ha ha jingoists are already feeling insecure.


  • Jul 21, 2012 - 12:41PM

    Definatly there is an improvement , A few songs are just amazing too… Good Work i must say BUT i strongly felt that Coke Studio India desperately tried to impress Pakistani Audience…here is why:

    1: Many of the Hit Compositions which even the author mentioned above are in Urdu/punjabi
    2: There are no sub-titles of any kind so indian audience is on its own , I am sure most of India have no clue what is going on in lyrics field …

    Mtv Coke studio = well played
    The Coke Studio = Challenge Accepted!! watch out for season 6


  • Bee
    Jul 21, 2012 - 2:05PM

    “…first two episodes of the Indian counterpart have outperformed the entire fifth season of Pakistan’s “Coke Studio”.



  • Asad
    Jul 21, 2012 - 2:14PM

    Indians talking about guts and Pakistanis not saying anything nice about their version of coke studio should ask themselves how many positive articles have they read about pakistani coke studio in their newspapers? or even how any indians have the guts to post anything positive here on a pakistani news site talking positive things about your version of coke studio?


  • Jul 21, 2012 - 2:15PM

    @Rafay Muhammad: you should know that the first season of coke studio season 5 have CHARKHA NAULAKA and I guess its one of the highlights from all the five seasons of Coke Studio Pakistan, and it got eclipsed that? you gotta be kidding me


  • Umer
    Jul 21, 2012 - 2:31PM

    The production is top-class, with audio being so crisp and clear. But they are getting their songs mixed and mastered in London, which means they’re spending more money to go into far better facilities abroad to get such refined productions.

    furthermore, the idea of having different producers/song-writers is brilliant. we get fresh music to listen to. Presence of electric guitars and live acoustic drums is pleasant (CS Pak used to have live drums before).

    CS Pakistan has definitely been getting monotonous for most parts in the way it sounds. and CS@Mtv is refreshing. But who knows 3-4 seasons later we have to say the same for them. CS Pak gave us memorable hits (usually 2-3 max per season, out of 20 songs). I think Rohail can keep the control of the overall show, but having other producers come in and having different versatile musicians for the house band may be a fresher approach for the continuing seasons.

    I am proud to be a Pakistani and CS Pak is still amazing as per many standards, but like the article says, the bar has been set high for coming years. even better for us, we’ll get to hear better music :)


  • Mishra
    Jul 21, 2012 - 3:40PM

    This has been an awesome season so far


  • Saad Durrani
    Jul 21, 2012 - 4:27PM

    Why this guy gets to do reports on Coke Studio only? He only churns out negativity for the Pakistani season whereas praises the Indian effort. Whilst I hope that Coke Studio adds a new producer to their line-up, I also wish that Express Tribune adds a reviewer—perhaps, one who can write reviews and not apple-to-oranges comparisons.


  • Jul 21, 2012 - 4:27PM

    It has improved, yes but to say that it has eclipsed the entire fifth season of CokeStudio Pakistan is an overstatement. I do not agree with this review at all. And calling for Rohail’s ouster is the single most poignant thing in this “review”.Recommend

  • Muhammad Aqib Khan
    Jul 21, 2012 - 4:59PM

    Oh come on Give me a Break Man.

    yes we must try some new producers too, no doubt Rohail hayat is one of my favourites since Vital signs era.

    Apart from that Indian Coke Studio? :S Never even Heard it till now :S


  • Zafar
    Jul 21, 2012 - 5:25PM

    Dear ET, We really don’t have appetite for Indian Entertainment Industry, no bollywood and not their music. Publishing such stories, either you want to retain your bored Indian commenter for lack of any alternative there in India, or you want to create your market in India. It is unjust to promote Indian things here, while you people cannot cover your own turf adequately.Recommend

  • Arsie
    Jul 21, 2012 - 6:06PM

    This is ridiculous! The writer has absolutely no sense of music whatsoever. I have heard the indian coke studio and believe me the songs mentioned above are not worth listening. Madari, allah hoo etc are not the kind of songs one can put on repeat plus they are overdone by singers n producers. The writer seems to be have a personal grudge against Rohail Hyatt or maybe ET is targetting the indian audience through this article. It is a shame that we always downplay our heroes for our personal interests. Rohail Hyatt, you’re a gem and you’re the only reason we wait for coke studio all year and season 5 was the best of all seasons


  • Junaid
    Jul 21, 2012 - 6:19PM

    Ohh..pakistanis….dont know when they will stop living in la la land and face the reality……this is so stereotypical of pakistanis…you compare anything, they say pakistan is the best…you show them facts, they say facts are fabricated….you talk about their crisis, they blame it on RAW/Mossad/CIA…..


  • Ammar
    Jul 21, 2012 - 7:31PM

    No Rafay, Indian Coke Studio has not ‘eclipsed’ the entire fifth season of Pakistan Coke Studio. MTV Coke Studio is much improved from last year, yes. But it still suffers from an age-old Indian affliction – glossy overproduction.

    But given the paucity of substance in all of your CS reviews so far, wasn’t expecting any gems of musical wisdom anyway.


  • chachu
    Jul 21, 2012 - 7:58PM

    Faisal Rafi Mekaal and Shahi are interesting options….is anyone at coke reading this or just being ignorant.


  • Music Fan
    Jul 21, 2012 - 8:27PM

    What nonsense, sure India’s “Coke Studio” has improved as compared to last season but in no way is it better than the Pakistani Coke Studio season 5. I am not one of those who would just for nationalist reasons say that the Pakistani version is better no matter what India brings up but really season 5 has been amazing. Charka Naulakha is a masterpiece!


  • Shahrukh Kazmi
    Jul 21, 2012 - 8:33PM

    : | are you alright ? i mean seriously i know that this season of Pakistani coke studio was not better than other seasons but to tell you the truth go again and listen to the production quality of MTV Coke Studio plus the compositions it still sounds filmi to you there is nothing new in it.


  • Jul 21, 2012 - 9:03PM

    @ Neeraj
    Why don’t you tell me a bit about the lyrics of any above mentioned songs …:)

    What’s the use of billion people when they are not going to understand a word….
    on the other hand 17 cror people does :)


    Jul 22, 2012 - 2:06AM

    I think Shuja Haider should replace Rohail Hyatt…what music needs is a young and an energetic mind sadly which Mr. Rohail does not have it!!


  • Maddy
    Jul 22, 2012 - 10:08AM

    Okkk…so the third episode…seriously Yawwwnnn….like i couldn’t even get past half of each song..Yatra song is just tooooo annoying…’chaudhry’ was okkkkk…its like they are trying so hard…once again i dont feel that ‘soul captivating’ feeling…music is highly mixed with too much western fusions…trying real hard. And the writer of this article can certainly borrow my beats headphone and listen again some of the ‘soul catchy’ songs of just chakwal group and then ask himself ”is this for real?” Coz thats how good those voices are!!!


  • Ali Khan
    Jul 22, 2012 - 1:33PM

    @Neeraj, i have Indian colleagues from South India who dont have an effing clue about what the coke studio songs mean… please, coke studio india should air translation of Tamil and other south indian languages so that a great majority of their people might understand whats going on! One billion Indians definitely dont and cant speak one language! Urdu is dominant only

    As for quality, coke studio Pakistan is still better, go through their songs to believe it…though now they have competition next door so they need to up their bar!


  • zombie
    Jul 22, 2012 - 8:12PM

    cs@mtv is more experimental in their approach… very fresh and diverse sounds in season2…. punjabi/urdu vocals with western instruments is not fusion ..u really need to fuse desi and western instruments to create fusion music… cs@mtv has done it this year. especially check ‘chaudhary’ from episode3Recommend

  • Arian
    Jul 23, 2012 - 8:38AM

    The song Husna performed by Piyush Mishra is an absolute gem and it is sad to see so many people get all competitive by turning this into an India vs Pakistan issue. The whole world notwithstaning Pakistan knows about India and its contribution to music.


  • From India
    Jul 23, 2012 - 12:46PM

    Though i dont understand one thing here – Why comparison? Cant both the versions be great and exist together? Come on guys, its music and not battlefield. Listen and enjoy what you love to. Let the music play :)

    Personally, I love Rohail’s Coke Studio and I have started liking Coke Studio India from this season. But that in no way takes me away from Rohail’s compositions.

    Also just a bit of update here to clarify all – Coke Studio took birth in Brazil and Pakistan/India have just thankfully adopted that beautiful idea to take it to next level.

    Cheers, and with love from India!


  • unknown
    Jul 23, 2012 - 5:49PM

    Although I have not heard the Indian Coke Studio, but I did hear the song Husna and I must say, it is a really nice song and did bring tears to my eyes. I did top my music chart. I believe that Coke Studio in general (indian or pakistani) needs diversity, season 5 songs were very monotonous and apart from a couple, there was nothing great about the season. I have heard way better songs in the previous seasons and this season just did not live up to the image.
    Music is down to personal choices and I don’t expect people to agree with me, what I expect is that my fellow countrymen act sensibly for a change and appreciate the music, irrespective of its domain and just don’t consider everything in life to be a war. This country can only progress once average people like you and me can be more open minded and move on in life, and stop labelling everything as war! (Esp against India).


  • dude
    Jul 24, 2012 - 2:35AM

    Can’t agree more with unknown


  • Noman
    Jul 25, 2012 - 1:32AM

    this article is completely lame.. thou i have heard few songs of season two MTV and i must appreciate they are awesome but saying it over shadowed entire season 5 of coke studio pakistan is height of exaggeration . Charkha nolakha has 1 million + views which itself is more then entire coke studio india . apart from it .. coke studio is all about experiments and music is not limited to sufi rock fusion its more diveresed coke studio pakisan is on complete different level now..apart from it some of the best songs of this seasons KOI LABDA, Neray Aah , MAHI ,runng, kamlee ,some pushto and sindhi songs and performece by bohmia and chawal grp was classical.. if any one thinks coke studio 5 is flop then am afraid to say he or she has no taste of music :)

    but yes indian version has improved and they can surpass if pak coke studio compromised on their soul.. and for god sake no atif any more..!


    Jul 25, 2012 - 5:14AM

    @dude: Khuda ka khauf karo yaar! Its Janaab Rohail Hyatt for you! If you can attain even 10% talent of what he exhumes then trust your time on earth has been well deserved.


  • deepak
    Jul 30, 2012 - 11:59AM

    I use to hear song online since 3 years but this is the first song.. I thought to be shared.. to every one. This songs.. say is an perfect example how to put “soul” in song and I heard piyush mishra in gulaal – Arambha hai. which was one of the best track till now. but husna is something can;t express in word. It can just feel… Ofcourse band in back ground had done gr8 job…



  • Michael_jogi
    Jul 30, 2012 - 11:51PM

    @khirad: Mate I do respect talent from everywhere but perhaps you should do the same do u really think rogsil hayat did bad bad this time if u really have listened to coke studio 5


  • pakistani
    Sep 6, 2012 - 3:49PM

    India have much better and wide variety of music talent then Pakistan.even from the time 60′.Recommend

More in Life & Style