Sunday, June 19, 2011

In defense of Coke Studio@MTV...

At the beginning of this year, I wrote a piece on Coke Studio (CS). Well, as you can guess, not many were aware what CS was all about until lately. But since then, it has infiltrated musical aficionados’ psyche like anything. On a personal level, I don’t even remember when CS replaced Suprabhatam at my place without making a sound (no pun intended). It’d be fair to say that Coke Studio is the best thing to have ever come out of Pakistan. After Nusrat Saab.

For the freshers, Coke Studio is a musical extravagance which has its origin in Brazil but the entire concept developed in Pakistan under Rohail Hyatt. The idea was to infuse music from diverse regions of Pakistan and provide them a common platform to showcase their talent. Top-notch is an adjective that comes to mind whenever I think of all the episodes I’ve watched. Yes, listening isn’t enough. If it’s CS, you better watch because there is so much to experience visually. The synchronization of lyrics and music isn’t something we, the hoi polloi, are often privy to. On a side note, the ignoramus among us (yes, Indians) can’t help but be amazed by the variety Pakistan has to offer in musical scenario; be it Sufi, western, devotional, tribal, folk or Qawwali.

So far, so good.

And then, Coke Studio decides to come to India courtesy MTV. As expected, we were thrilled – and still are – about the endless possibilities that lie ahead of it. The very first episode gave us a hint of how things will look like throughout the season. Seven performances took place in that segment which featured songs in 8 languages including Assamese, Bengali, Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, Telugu, Tamil and Urdu. In simpler words, folk and regional music will get their long-awaited due but not without Bollywood’s crooning escorts.

To be very frank, the inaugural episode garnered mixed review. To be very, very frank, the reviews weren’t too positive. Many viewers expressed their utter disappointment with poor sound engineering and production as well as presentation (dull video panning). There were moments in the show when noise completely dominated fusion. House band were haphazard. Also looking at the chorus girls, what were they up to? What’s the point in having them seated there with no active contribution to a particular performance?

We can’t blame people for not liking CS (though they are more than 200,000 likes on CS’s Facebook homepage). It’s a personal choice but still dissing it without substantial sagacity is quite stupid. The very comparison with Pakistan’s CS makes the argument one-sided. After all, Pak’s CS has been around for three seasons now and is into its fourth year running whereas we are nascent and just one episode old. And we shouldn’t forget that Pak CS wasn’t a runaway hit either. It took time to gain momentum and with patience and precision, it did and how!

Personally, I feel negativity is good as it shall ensure improvisation. Also, we need to give Leslie Lewis credit for putting up a show in such a short notice, though on the down side, the unpreparedness was rather visible in patches in the first episode itself. But Coke Studio is all about evolution. It is like a musical journey through varied phases. And I am pretty confident they’ll pull this off.

Also, India being diverse and rich with umpteen languages, it is but obviously natural that all Indians won’t be able to comprehend every single song. For instance, a Punjabi is not expected to understand Tamil or Kannada per se and similarly a Manipuri or Naga from North-East may not have the knowledge of Marathi or Gujarati. And to be honest, those facing Coke Studio's language barrier must ask themselves whether they can discern their favorite English songs without online lyrics. Ergo, Coke Studio should provide translations from the regional languages to both English and Hindi on their home site.

Anyway for now, we need to sit back, give our consumeristic hypocrisy a break and relax to enjoy the show’s first season!


Vidya said...

I agree..totally...also, some amount of negativity is needed, for that push to perform better n improvise..well said that! :)
after all Rome wasn't built in a day! :)

Shakti_Shetty said...

Exactly, my point.

What's the need to rush? Just give it time. It'll eventually pick up. There is no other option. The competition is against ourselves only, no one else.

meethimirchi said...

I had the same feeling, it's just the first episode, I guess it was a decent episode , loved some of the tracks . Over all baring some sound and chorus part it was pretty decent show . with fusion of folks , and yes its just the beginning :)

Shakti_Shetty said...

Yup. Decent is the word. Of course, many people got bored because they had no idea what to expect in the first place! Fusion is a difficult experiment and they must try to better themselves with each episode the way Pak Coke Studio did.

@Rohwit said...

I don't think you have left anything to be mentioned in the comment box here.

I heard people complaining about 'It is MTV so they should hit the groiund running and get it right from the day 1' and then I reminded myself about your view...'as if everything in their life is correct'


Overkill I say!

Cheerios! for a super blogpost

A said...

Amazing. I really liked how you proved it to the ignorant that it's just the first episode and CS will improve later.

Nilay Kumar Shrivastav said...

Yeah...good that you wrote on this topic. Though its still too early for people to find the flaws as it is just one episode old, the ones who still do it are nothing but suckers.

"And to be honest, those facing Coke Studio's language barrier must ask themselves whether they can discern their favorite English songs without online lyrics" ???

online lyrics helps to understand the words perfectly(sometimes for Hindi songs too), it has nothing to do with language barrier,don't you think?
For me, to comprehend the meaning is difficult, language barrier is a problem, but still, i love the show for the music when i can't understand the song.
Long Live CS(Coke Studio and Counter Strike both) :))

Adheesh L P said...

They better not translate Malayalam songs. Either they are too poetic or too meaningless. This is coming from a Malayali. May be translation may not have the intended effect and it may be better to let music do the talking. (Any Rammstein fans here? )

Just my thoughts. Also Coke Studio @ MTV can take all the time they want. Hope they provide at least a few good songs to remember. Low expectation helps :)

E.J.Mallal said...

Absolutely true. Look, maybe CSIndia will pick up and maybe it won't but I am willing to give it a chance which is more than what I can say for some of my Pakistani counterparts. I find all this bickering really irritating. It was so refreshing to see people just enjoy music and now some alph-holes are bringing up all the stupid nationality issues and strutting about pretending THEY created CS. Let's just enjoy the music and keep our traps shut about politics.

ladynimue said...

I was waiting to read this post ! though nothing to add more .. I loved some songs , did not like some , tried to like a few more yet felt them not reaching my heart's expectations .. Surprisingly i liked the regional parts more than the hindi ones (except Harshdeep's Hoo) ! that was fresh music ,, wish we had lesser number of songs and languages to digest in one episode though .. i sure did feel it was too much !

Rie said...

I only became aware of Pakistan's Coke Studio recently. I appreciated the background you gave on Coke Studio in general, then brought us up to the present, India’s first Coke Studio show. Details you provided were enough to imagine and look for the best. I believe you are right to suggest folks give India's program time to develop and blossom as Pakistan's has.

As someone who is unfamiliar with your culture, I found this very informative from that perspective too. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. This read left me with a better understanding of the show's format and certainly a richer experience of the cultural diversity which is India!

Shakti_Shetty said...

Thanks guys for your comments. I'll make sure all your ideas/thoughts/feedback be sent to Leslie Lewis ASAP! :D