‘Folk Studio’ yearns for rebranding

Published: August 31, 2015
Episode 3 plays on the contagious romance of the past that has reached its extent of exploitation.

Episode 3 plays on the contagious romance of the past that has reached its extent of exploitation.


Out of the 12 tracks churned out by Strings this year, only three can be termed as original compositions. While it makes sense to revisit the past and honour giants whose work went largely unnoticed, the stack of records containing covers, medleys, tributes and remixes has gone through the roof and reached the extent of exploitation. Also, under the nose of master wordsmith Anwar Maqsood and competent backstage staffers, such as Jami and Zahra Sabri, diction has been mercilessly slaughtered over the past three episodes, be it in terms of voiceovers or the way the lyrics are sung. Season 8’s third episode was no different. With a few happy moments now and then, it largely played on the contagious romance of the past.

Umran Langiyaan

Time to address the elephant in the room. Ever since the show was conceived, it has upheld the tradition of celebrating the achievements of some of Pakistan’s finest music talents. The few exceptions too have somewhat done good enough to be noticed among towering artists. Despite having the approval of certain sections, Ali Sethi, Ayesha Omar and Komal Rizvi were allowed in just too soon. That being said, Umran Langiyaan was probably one of the best arranged compositions to come out of the show in the past two seasons. Apart from a few instances here and there, Sethi was unable to get right most of the murkis the Asad Amanat Ali anthem is peppered with, and the improvisation helped only to a certain extent. He helplessly chases the tempo by skirting areas that demanded justice. Nabeel Shaukat Ali sitting idle through most of the track and then walking in was a directorial decision never witnessed before in the Coke Studio style of play. His Chan Chan Chankan transports the listener to a world they would never want to get out of. In an ideal world, some leprechaun could have secretly swapped the lyrics sheets of the two vocalists or, whispered the idea of allowing Nabeel more time on the microphone in Bilal and Faisal’s ears.

Read: Coke Studio 8: From boys to men

Neun La Leya

The duo that director Sohail Javed once called Pakistan’s Pink Floyd finally returned from a hiatus to restore the faith of many skeptics. Jaffer and Maaz’s genius is known to all and they delivered just the right product —  a soothing rendition of a folk melody that invokes emotions that are hard to articulate. The track opens to a rising electronic melody, breaking the monotony of the signature Strings’ method. With a Turkish saaz in his lap, Ustad Tanveer Hussain proved yet again that there is no stringed instrument that he cannot boss. Hamid Ali Bela will surely be smiling up there, somewhere.

Man Aamadeh Am

A Persian track tabled by the ethereal Gul Panrra as a solo act. With commercial instincts kicking in yet again, the producers brought in Atif Aslam, who has drawn an eclipse of moths every time he has appeared on the show. The cover has much to offer during the initial four minutes, with Panrra casting a spell over the listeners. As the song drags itself to the ninth minute, it leaves a spoilt impression. The collaboration will, however, serve Panra well, bringing her into the limelight she deserves.

Read: Coke Studio 8: Sugar, spice and some things nice

Rung Jindri

In an interview with The Express Tribune, Euphoria frontman Palash Sen went on record testifying the unparalleled attributes of the Arif Lohar brand. Rung Jindri is another specimen of the tradition Lohar has been shouldering for years. With the house band at full strength, Lohar comfortably toys with yet another folk song, over which his command can certainly not be questioned. However, in terms of recall and general appeal, the track fails to leave an impression and we doubt if the listener would even want to bear through the full six minutes.

Verdict: The episode screams in horror over the producers’ belief that nothing but reworked traditional popular culture will sell.


Published in The Express Tribune, September 1st,  2015.

Like Life & Style on Facebook, follow @ETLifeandStyle on Twitter for the latest in fashion, gossip and entertainment.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (10)

  • Parvez
    Aug 31, 2015 - 11:52PM

    The 3rd episode was BAD …..agree. Why did Arif Lohar have to try copy what he had already immortalized ?……..it was simply not called for and fell flat.Recommend

  • Ali S
    Sep 1, 2015 - 9:52AM

    Strings should allow more pop artists and upcoming young artists to do originals – that’s what they’re most comfortable with. Why haven’t Ali Haider, Shehzad Roy, Faakhir, Haroon or any other older established pop stars been on the show yet? There are so many opportunities.

    Rohail Hyatt was great with the folk renditions because he was thoroughly involved with the artists and had a holistic approach to it – Strings have a more hands-off approach (from what I’ve seen in the BTS) and their lack of familiarity with the material shows. Besides, the whole folk rendition thing is just getting worn out after 8 seasons of it.Recommend

  • shaikhmustafa
    Sep 1, 2015 - 10:10AM

    Coke studio MTV of India, has been a much better sounding affair. Albeit they started a year or two after us, but they have largely been successful in doing what the programme has been designed to do. The productions have been much better and so has the content of the songs.

    It is not necessarily about employing a 30 member team to recreate the magic of an old classic. Having flute interludes in every song is not a must, it’s like an antibiotic that you must take to cure the disease. Similarly having string sections in every song may not always do the job.

    Understanding the song first and then employing musicians to play is important. Strings too like their predecessor have been disappointing

    Music is an art form and aesthetics always play the most important role in ensuring that it sounds good to the ears.

    An excellent example is A R Rahman producing the coke studio MTV of 2013, a piece of his excellent production is with Ustad Ghulam Mustafa’s rendering of Soz o Salaam. A must for people who are know what great productions should sound like.Recommend

  • Hassan
    Sep 1, 2015 - 10:17AM

    Umran Langiyaan is the best song from this episode . Ali sethi did justiceRecommend

  • Hasan
    Sep 1, 2015 - 1:10PM

    Well I don’t know about music but honestly speaking episode 3 was good enough. Arif Lohar, Nabeel Shokat, Gul Panrra and other did justice and I liked all the songs. Recommend

  • Observer
    Sep 1, 2015 - 1:47PM


    “Ali sethi did justice”??? You probably mean corrupt sessions court style justice… yup, that’s trueRecommend

  • Ali
    Sep 1, 2015 - 2:15PM

    Why they are giving Atif so many songs ?there are a lot more singers Rahim Shah,Fakhir, Haroon,Ali Haider, Shehzad Roy,I think Coke Studio is missing Rohail.Recommend

  • Obaid
    Sep 2, 2015 - 3:44AM

    To me its one of the best episode of Coke studio… compositions was really soothing and all singers done justice to what they have sung.Recommend

  • Salma Iqbal
    Sep 2, 2015 - 4:43AM

    Enough of this nonsense. Everyone knows he is a sifarshi and cannot sing. Bauhat ho gayi ye sab baatain. He cannot sing and should not be in the line-up. He was not in the original line-up announced for season 8 and was added after his father pulled a lot of strings to get his son in. Nepotism needs to stop, sifarish needs to stop.Recommend

  • Sarah Kazi
    Sep 3, 2015 - 1:01AM

    I think Abida Parveen’s Dost is the best coke studio song hands down!Recommend

More in Life & Style