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'Coke Studio is not a fresh concept'

After four successful seasons in Pakistan, Coke Studio launches in India tonight. While singers like Kailash Kher and Ali Zafar sound optimistic about the platform, Sonu Nigam does not seem too gung-ho. Kanika Johri gives a lowdown on the concept and writes about the performers and what to expect.

music Updated: Jun 17, 2011 19:26 IST
Kanika Johri
Kanika Johri
Hindustan Times

Coke Studio offers a space for fusion between established voices and previously unheard sounds. The music produced is slated to be experimental as artistes from all over the country will be jamming together, regardless of the region and genre.

Leslie Lewis, who has directed the music for the show, told HT Cafe: "We've deliberately attempted to make sure that Bollywood aside, the alternative unknown artistes also take stage alongside them."

Pakistani singer and actor Ali Zafar feels that the music and the film industry should be separate and independent of each other and that Coke Studio fills the void of music that is not so mainstream.

Coke Studio"Coke Studio is not just film music. It's something fresh that fills up a void in the existing music industry," says Kailash Kher.

There will be several regional artistes coming to the forefront via the show as well.

"I am driving the bus and everybody is hopping on board," says Leslie Lewis, whose band Colonial Cousins with Hariharan will be part of the sessions as well.

However, renowned singer Sonu Nigam has a different story to tell.

"Something like Coke Studio is not a fresh concept and such music doesn't surprise me. I'm a serious musician and I've done too much of such music for anything to surprise me now."

Nigam had been approached for a few sessions but declined the offer.

Folk artist and classical singer Shubha Mudgal seems optimistic.

"I've heard the Pakistan sessions and it seems to be an interesting idea. I wouldn't write it off yet without listening more to the sessions. Considering the vast diversity and talent in the country, one would have to try really hard to do a bad job of a venture like this!" she says.

Coke Studio India
KK, Shaan, Shafqat Aamant Ali, Shankar Mahadevan, Sunidhi Chauhan and Kailash Kher are some of the artists who have recorded songs for the Coke Studio India. The show also includes talent like the band Advaita and singers like Harshdeep, Shruti Pathak, etc.

"A vast country like India has such tremendous diversity with around 400 singers and possibly 4000 music composers that fusion music is something very new and welcome," Kailash Kher says.

Kher will be performing a fusion rendition with Tamil singer Chinnaponnu.

He comments on the singer: "Chinnaponnu is a Tamil folk singer who sings from her heart. Neither of us knew what the other one was singing but still we connected at some level and really enjoyed the singing. Coke Studio @ MTv offers some very good music for the masses and jamming with different kinds of artists is great fun. And it definitely has given a chance to fresh talent and new music."

"India is a country so receptive to fresh sounds that Coke Studio will probably do well here and I hope and wish they do justice to it," Ali Zafar said.

Kailash Kher performs during a session of Coke Studio @ MTV as Leslie Lewis strums on (Photo: Avinash Jai Singh, MTV)

When asked if he would sing for the India sessions, he quips, "Why Not!"

Pakistani singer Atif Aslam who has delivered hits like Jalpari for Coke Studio Pakistan seems a bit more clinical about the concept.

"It depends a lot on the way such a concept is presented, if not marketed well to the audiences Coke Studio may not do too well."

Coke Studio Pakistan
Before launching in India, the concept of Coke Studio was helmed in Pakistan by musician Rohail Hyatt. It involved several jamming sessions between both renowned artists and fresh singers.

Ali Zafar, Raahat Fateh Ali Khan, Atif Aslam and Abida Parveen are some of the singers associated with the Pakistan chapter. Coke Studio Pakistan is currently running in its fourth season.

"Coke Studio is a fabulous concept because despite showcasing experimental music, the sounds from the sessions were receieved well by the masses," said Ali Zafar.

"Genres of music like Sufi, folk which were earlier considered uncool suddenly became the order of the day, especially amongst the youth," the Tere Bin Laden actor added.

"The Pakistan sessions of Coke Studio have been tastefully done and the fact that you get to hear some really good quality versions of songs from Coke Studio is rather heartening," says Shubha Mudgal. She seems a bit skeptical though about established singers jamming with fresh talent.

"Sometimes, playback singers tend to use aalaaps and other such improvisations for effect, not necessarily producing something new."

"Coke Studio in Pakistan may have spread by word of mouth in Pakistan but India is a bigger country and needs a collaboration with a television channel like MTV. It is essential for the music to reach the masses. The music needs to be commercial for it to be of value to the people," folk and Bollywood singer Kailash Kher said.

With expectation in the air, it remains to be seen whether Coke Studio will repeat the success it saw in Pakistan.

About the Show
Show: Coke Studio @ MTV
Channel: MTV
Day: Friday
Time: 7pm

First Published: Jun 17, 2011 14:04 IST