Thank you, Rohail... you are irreplaceable!

Published: January 22, 2014
The ideal package that Rohail is makes him truly irreplaceable, but now that he has opted out, what options are we left with? PHOTOS: FILE

The ideal package that Rohail is makes him truly irreplaceable, but now that he has opted out, what options are we left with? PHOTOS: FILE


“It’s a long and amazing journey and I don’t know where I am heading towards, but I am definitely heading somewhere. It is this spontaneity that makes the journey better and more awe-inspiring with time,” were the words of producer Rohail Hyatt when he last interacted with The Express Tribune.

In a recent display of his spontaneity, he surprised many friends and fans by disclosing that he is parting ways with Coke Studio — a cultural hurricane that not only put Pakistan’s fading musicians back on the map, but also gave Pakistanis something to own up and look forward to. The influence of the music show was such that its songs got featured in both Hollywood and Bollywood films, such as West is West and Cocktail, respectively.

“As a local radio jingle goes these days ‘Britney chali gayi or sufi agaye’ — this is how Coke Studio and Pakistani musicians have changed the game,” said Aditya Swamy, the Executive Vice President and business head of MTV India at the beginning of the second season of its own telecast Coke Studio India.

Whatever may be said about the decline of Coke Studio over time, the fact remains that Rohail’s absence is going to leave an unfillable void. Coke Studio was his baby, a venture that he personally groomed and evolved over the passage of six years, and which was brought to fruition owing to the ideal combination of his personal and professional accolades.

You sit during the recordings of Coke Studio and you’ll find out why a folk legend like Lala (Attaullah Esakhelvi) and rock star Atif Aslam were equally comfortable working with Rohail. There’s one word for it — humbleness.

Part of what made Coke Studio a raving success was Rohail’s veneration for senior artistes and cordial attitude towards the younger ones, which made them open up to him. The rest of  it comes from the deadly combination of some of the best musicians in Pakistan and Rohail’s home ground — the studio.

Be it the good old days of Vital Signs or Coke Studio, Rohail was more a studio musician and that just got better with time until he was ready to create his own musical empire and single-handedly rule it for six years.

Modesty and talent are a rare combination, but even when they co-exist, you certainly don’t expect the artiste to be a pro at corporate communications. Rohail had all these qualities and that is why, more than anyone else, the brands (which were also the financers) worked at ease with him over the course of two decades.

Both Frequency Media (Rohail’s company) and Coca Cola were well adjusted with each other’s red tape. This uncompromising yet in sync attitude is also the reason why Coke Studio didn’t fizzle out despite a forgettable season five, and platforms like Uth Records tapering off after merely two seasons.

The ideal package that Rohail is makes him truly irreplaceable, but now that he has opted out, what options are we left with? Mekaal Hasan, a potential contender, recently bashed Rohail on a public forum saying that he has not created a single artiste in the history of Coke Studio.

There is no point in rebutting such a delusional statement, but Mekaal does need to be reminded that in his short portfolio as a producer, which is significantly less than what Rohail has produced, includes around 40 minutes belonging to the Princess Annie. The rest is history, and worth jest.

The other contender could be Shahi Hasan, but given the substandard music he created for Cornetto Music Icons, the chances of a second season of his own show seem bleak.

The most speculated contender, however, is Strings. Although it is understandable for Coca Cola to be interested in getting some popular faces and star power for Rohail’s spot, we fail to fathom why they’d choose a band that has no experience is music production. Strings is a good band, but production is certainly not their cup of tea and if this rumour turns out to be true, it would be the last nail in the coffin for Coke Studio.

Whoever replaces Rohail, we hope does justice to the platform, if not make it better. In the meantime, the entire music industry is indebted to Rohail for keeping music alive at a time when record labels are exploiting artistes, music channels are gobbling up albums and the government has banned YouTube.

Dear Rohail, whenever Saeen Zahoor talks about sufi music, Sanam Marvi replaces Abida Parveen on a show, Akhtar Channal performs in front of an urban audience, Arif Lohar goes on a world tour, Zoe Viccaji records a jingle and Meesha Shafi uses the word singer with her name, deep down in their hearts, each one of them owes their success to you, who made them so important in such little time. Rohail Hyatt, you are the man with the Midas touch and will truly be missed.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2014.

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Some highlights from Rohail Hyatt’s run as producer of Coke Studio:


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Reader Comments (24)

  • Rehan
    Jan 22, 2014 - 8:07PM

    Really devastating.


  • ARS
    Jan 22, 2014 - 8:43PM

    Thank you Rohail. We will miss you :/


  • sabi
    Jan 22, 2014 - 9:20PM

    Rohail Hyatt we need you in-Coke studio or Smoke studio.


  • not impressed
    Jan 22, 2014 - 10:14PM

    there you go again Rafay, always pumping coke studio and rohail hyatt – coke studio was dead after season 3, every song sounds the same, and rohail has made enough of a killing cash wise to last for the rest of his days


  • Yousaf Hyat
    Jan 22, 2014 - 10:18PM

    We will miss you of luck .


  • Wada Anegrez
    Jan 22, 2014 - 11:32PM

    There’s one word for it — humbleness.

    You mean: humility?Recommend

  • Faizan
    Jan 22, 2014 - 11:41PM

    Till season 3 Coke Studio filled a huge gap in our music industry and undoubtedly it was due to Rohail Hayat’s experience and talent that this was possible. However, we should also recognize that Rohail was not able to bring back the same energy after that. But surely one should recognize his contribution towards Coke Studio. Hope that the Coke Studio journey will continue with new talented people because the show must go on !Recommend

  • music fraternity
    Jan 22, 2014 - 11:44PM

    What an ill informed writer..mekaal has produced sumwhere between 20-40 albums in his “short forgettable portfolio” if not more…Ali azmat’s klashinfolk, jal’s second album, zeb and haniya’s debut record, noori’s peeli Patti and suno k main houn jawàan and so many others including the mhb records…do ur research Mr. Nonmusician music critic before bashing someone as credible and respected as mekaal.Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Jan 23, 2014 - 12:54AM

    I have a feeling that Mekaal was being considered as Rohail’s replacement by Coke, and somehow wasn’t approved by Rohail. That’s the only reason which could have compelled Mekaal to trash Rohail so publicly. Also I just noticed (if I’m not wrong), Mekaal never played at Coke Studio even though he is one of the biggest names in Pakistani music.


  • Fahad Khan
    Jan 23, 2014 - 2:21AM

    The funny thing is that the author of this article was always dissing Rohail’s composed music and music videos in Coke Studio, in all his previous articles. Some people were ranking Nescafe Basement as a better program than Coke Studio in 2013. But what they failed to realize was that both were based on different formats. I think a civilian award is in order for Rohail Hayat. His effort has made a huge cultural impact in India and on the world and has presented a softer and better image of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Saad Zafar
    Jan 23, 2014 - 2:41AM

    @not impressed:
    Viewership and reviews say otherwise. It may be dead for your but it was alive and kicking for rest of us millions


  • np
    Jan 23, 2014 - 2:43AM

    Rohail did not create Coke Studio. That happened in Brazil. He created Coke Studio Pakistan and certainly for that he should get as much credit as the marketing people in Coke who decided to use this format to communicate their brand values.Recommend

  • Dr Omar
    Jan 23, 2014 - 9:29AM

    Dr Omar

    Coke studio had its fair share of hits & misses. Overall Rohail as a producer did an amazing job, but Meekal’s too (despite a short tenure) has produced albums for heavy weights like Ali Azmat, Noori, Zeb & Haniya, not mention his own critically acclaimed studio albums.

    Please do complete research before bashing anyone. As it is, our music industry is non-existent, lacking a proper infrastructure. It would be nice that producers, musicians, sponsors and critics should come together (for a change) & try to improve things instead of resorting to politics and bashing!


  • Ali
    Jan 23, 2014 - 9:44AM

    no one is IRREPLACABLE in this world so author should come out from his dream world and face reality & see what happened to recent addition of coke studio …. CHNAGE IS THE ONLY CONSTANT… apart from this rohail really needs a break from whatevere is going on in his personal life..


  • Abubakar
    Jan 23, 2014 - 10:50AM

    Get over it folks. Coke Studio needed a change anyway, the music was getting monotonous. You could feel tunes and lyrics being repeated in different songs. That said, Well done Rohail for creating such a great show and we hope it will continue to exceed standards set by Rohail.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Jan 23, 2014 - 1:37PM

    In the performing arts………change is always a good thing.


  • Truther
    Jan 23, 2014 - 2:56PM

    @not impressed: totally agree with you but then it pays to have friends in media, doesn’t it?


  • Truther
    Jan 23, 2014 - 2:58PM

    @Saad Zafar: Millions!! Wow where does this figure come from? Out of blue I guess


  • Deems
    Jan 23, 2014 - 4:21PM

    Remove folk and classical, and coke studio is not worth a tissue paper!


  • Jan 23, 2014 - 7:25PM

    good decision and good luck for your future works in professional and thanks a lot for your great efforts for highlighting our great culture to internationally.


  • FS
    Jan 23, 2014 - 9:54PM

    Coke Studio has to go through an evolution as the recent shows are monotonous. I think Rohail might have been the right person to start the show and develop its identity however a change will be a good thing. I think the author was unfair in talking about Mekaal firstly because he is publicly bashing someone very credible and recognized in a public forum where Mekaal cannot respond. Mekaal is a modern day pioneer in the fusion arena the same venue in which Coke Studio music falls under. Recommend

  • MJ
    Jan 24, 2014 - 3:43AM

    There was Nisar Bazmi, then Robin Gosh, Sohail Rana … countless others, then Rohail Hyatt, Mekaal Hasan … and there will be other to replace them. Every composer is different and brings their individuality and style in to the songs composed and in relevance with the musical tastes of the times. This is not the end of the world. The musical horizons of Pakistan have never been brighter before. If only the rest of the issues faced by our nation could have such a silver lining on the dark clouds that surround us.


  • BoJ
    Jan 24, 2014 - 11:56AM

    Rohail Hyatt should rest for a year… Then move to Dubai and start an “International Studio”Recommend

  • Tango Dilber
    Jan 27, 2014 - 10:43PM


    Dear All,

    It is the sadest news I have heard, I am a die-hard fan of Coke Studio Pakistan. I am 100% sure that great contributor Rohail is another victim of typical desi jealousies and dirty politics that not only destroyed his marriage but also put a toll on him Please respect the work he has done for all of us and for the music. He is one of the greatest and I wish him well. All coke studio seasons were great and specially season 6 will be remembered as s the greatest experiment in fusion. Tori Chub, Ishk Kinara and Mian ki Malhaar are master-piece I appeal to Coke Studio and Rohail to re-consider this decision.

    Do not kill this 6 year old child like this. People do not bash him learn to respect your heroes. You should really take some of the musicians from Season 6 and from Pakistan like Gumby and others and with artist like Fareeha, Rustam, Sana, Misha, Arif Lohar Rizwan, Asad Abbas, Atif, Saiyeen Zahoor etc who ever can join you and go on tour to Europe, Turkey and USA. I think it will be a sold out tour and will give Pakistan a big boost in the western music world. I am sure there are many sponsors you will be able to find and come up with the cash for it. Recommend

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