KARACHI: Rohail Hyatt’s exit from Coke Studio was a shocker for fans and the music industry. For some it was an end to a glorious legacy, for others it was a break from the monotonous sound that couldn’t evolve beyond Season 4. Whichever side of the argument you’re on, the magnanimity of songs like Aik Alif and Alif Allah Chambay Di Boti made one thing clear: Coca Cola had some really big shoes to fill.
This is perhaps why the decision to hand over operations of Coke Studio to Strings, a band with no prior experience in music production, came as an even bigger surprise. After all, even Coke Studio @ MTV (the Indian version of Coke Studio) took Rohail’s blessings to start their own edition of the reality music show. However, it seems that the decision to hire the band as producers of the show was a desperate one, as none of the other alternatives agreed on the terms and conditions put forward by the corporate giant.
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Among the possible alternatives to Rohail was India-based Pakistani pop star Adnan Sami Khan. He was reportedly the first option, but unfortunately, the deal fell flat. Though insiders told The Express Tribune the deal with Adnan couldn’t materialise because he was asking for a lot of money, the singer suggests other reasons.
“Yes I was offered to produce Coke Studio Pakistan,” Adnan Sami Khan told The Express Tribune. “I didn’t end up producing the show due to an international tour and other prior commitments.”
Sources claimed the reason Adnan didn’t come on board was because the show couldn’t afford to pay the sum he was asking for: nearly twice as much as what Hyatt was charging. When asked to share their version of why he wouldn’t come on board, the brand team of Coca Cola Pakistan refused to comment on the matter.
Sources added Mekaal Hasan was the second option, but a Facebook post, in which Hasan criticised Coke Studio and its approach towards music, took the deal away from him.
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“There is no truth in this statement. I was never approached to produce Coke Studio,” Hasan told The Express Tribune. However, the Mekaal Hasan Band will perform in Coke Studio 8 as featured artists with their new lineup, which includes Indian musicians as well.
According to insiders, the third option was Strings. And the band is currently producing the show at the lowest cost ever. The brand team of Coca Cola refused to respond to this claim as well.
However, there is a possibility that Hyatt might return to the forefront later this year with his own show called Coke Studio Live. The show will have nothing to do with the regular Coke Studio episodes and will only be released on DVD and online. Coke Studio Live will feature some of the most frequent performers at Rohail Hyatt’s version of Coke Studio with a more earthy and live feel.
The eighth season of Coke Studio is set to feature a host of Pakistani music icons such as Ali Zafar, Atif Aslam and Ali Azmat. Many local names are also expected to debut on the show. Pop star Ali Haider and ghazal maestro Ustad Hamid Ali Khan are among those gearing up for their first stint on the show, expected to air on August 16.
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