TheCalmDev (Dev J Haldar)

ravings, rantings and ramblings

Which Coke will Quench It?

Despite all the negative responses to Coke Studio at MTV (India), I was holding up a flag in favour of it. How could the formula go wrong? It was done earlier. The talent pool was renowned and respected for their craft. It looked formidable enough. I was also holding off all comparisons to the fore-runner (Coke Studio Pakistan) despite being a huge admirer of it. The former being in its fourth season, CS India needed to take off and ‘grease in’ in the mind of its audiences.

I have always felt that Bollywood is a blessing and a bane for us Indians. It might have gotten us noticed worldwide, but it has also seeped into many pure art forms. Dance and music, now had one culmination point – Bollywood. And so I felt that we were being a bit harsh on CS India as we knew all the artists, and they had contributed to Bollywood, in someway or the other. As opposed to its predecessor, where most artists might not have been well-known or known to us, for that matter. CS India needed some time to grow on its home audience.

I thoroughly enjoyed the episode where Richa Sharma, Ustad Rashid Khan and Bombay Jayashree performed. Save a few moments, I had awarded the episode almost 4 stars out of 5. I had the songs downloaded and have listened to them while driving. Yet, the public opinion was swaying over to the other side. I kept looking for more episodes on the ‘tube’ and started a patient study of CS India.

The signs I showed, while watching them, worried me. I wanted to watch CS India on a fast forward mode. I was a little impatient with well-known artists whilst I was more than patient with the counterparts on the other side of the border. I did not think much of Shaan’s rendition of (yet) another Kishore Kumar number. Aakriti Kakkar’s rendition of a Shankar Mahadevan composition seemed rather drab till Shankar held the helm of affairs, a rather long 7 minutes later.

And then came the final blow when I saw the episode featuring Shafqat Amanat Ali.

Those who know me, know of my undying love and dedication to Shafqat. And bias is not without reason. Shafqat has demonstrated a range and vocal quality that appeals to all, in particular, to the new generation. He chooses his songs with care. He probably is the only one who has popularised Aamir Khusrau and Bulle Shah to generation i-pad. He made audiences groove as he simplified Farida Khanum’s legendary “Aaj Jaane Ki Zid Na Karo”. Shafqat was already one Coke Studio old and probably a rare artist to be featured in the same show format across borders. And this one time, I felt that CS India’s series music director Leslie ‘Lezz’ Lewis got it all wrong.

Leslie could have bolstered the image of Coke Studio India by using a talent like that of Shafqat to some good use. Instead, he just squandered it all away with some ‘god-awful’ music arrangement and rough collaboration. Why would one assign a Shruti Pathak with Shafqat, as she attempted a tough composition “Kya Haal Sunaawa”? Even to the music-untrained, she went off-key twice. It almost felt that Shafqat was coaxing her to sing!  And if that was not enough, what doomed it was “Akhiyaan“.

A horrendous reggae groove to the song that was released when Shafqat (in short hair) was the lead singer of Fuzon. And on top of that, the ‘sitar’ was added to it too. I am pained beyond imagination as Shafqat sang the song that got Fuzon noticed but did nothing this time around. The three girls backing him up annoyed me no-end as they coo-ed ‘Ankhiyaan’, and I realise that too, should be credited to Leslie Lewis. How??? How could such a glorious song be reduced to such a deplorable state that there is no redemption?

The angry hate-comments, on You Tube, directed towards Lezz comforted me. The comparisons to Coke Studio Pakistan still seemed unjust.


5 comments on “Which Coke will Quench It?

  1. Amardeep Sidhu
    July 29, 2011

    Well buddy few reasons that make it so crappy:

    1) Lesle Lewis is an idiot. He doesn’t have the talent required to produce a show like coke studio. He himself doesn’t know anything beyond bollywood. Making music is a secondary thing. First thing is picking up good songs & singers. He sucks at both anyways !

    2) For 50-60 long years, the music in India has been bastardized by Bollywood singers and music composers. Half of our music (and a pretty good percentage of our super hit songs) is the result of plagiarism. When it came to Coke studio their limited brains, once again got stuck in Bollywood and result is this crap !

    3) I can’t think of any music director in India who could have produced a brilliance like Pak version. Unfortunate but true !

    Sorry for this kind of language. Pure anguish; nothing else !

  2. Dev J Haldar aka Calmdev
    July 29, 2011

    Amardeep, I understand the anguish. Well placed, just livid, and one can see that. My post is in total agreement.
    Rohail Hayat was superlative in his approach. However, I would disagree with point 3. There is no dearth of talent, just that one needs to know who to be hired for what job. Think it is an HR issue now 😉

  3. Amardeep Sidhu
    July 30, 2011

    HR issue…hehehe 😀

    Well…i don’t mean to say that there are no good music directors. There are but the problem is with producing a Coke Studio kind of show. If we take an example of A R Rahman (He is bit over-rated, though, in my opinion), he again won’t be able to do any justice to this show as he doesn’t know much about North Indian (especially Punjabi/Sufi) music. Similar issues with others as well.

    You have any other names to suggest ?

    May be we can sort this HR stuff out 😉

    • Dev J Haldar aka Calmdev
      July 30, 2011

      Totally disagree with you here. The only other person who would have been able to do justice is A R Rahman. I know of people who have worked with him, I have spoken with him at length on two occasions and a careful listen to the music that he produces would put all doubts to rest. Your comment about North Indian music and Sufi is also misplaced as there are ample Rahman compositions that fit the bill. Nonetheless, it is not for me to suggest names for CS India. The damage (or the good) has been done. I would want to see what MTV does with this in Season 2.

  4. Amardeep Sidhu
    July 31, 2011

    hehe…well I just hope that they stop it here. No need for season 2. Enough crap has been produced already. They are spoiling the name “Coke Studio”.

    May be a difference of opinion here but I don’t think even A R Rahman would have done some wonder. Indian music scene is a slave of Bollywood and they (Lesle Lewis or someone else) can’t think of anything else. Here also, except few famous faces like Wadali brothers, they couldn’t bring anyone else. Whatever little attempt they did; that too failed miserably.

    The very first thing that needs to be done to produce a good quality show is move out of this Bollywood matrix, find some other good regional singers and choose songs that have not been used in Bollywood movies. This crappy Bollywood has already eaten a good lot of popular folk and regional music by copying the original tunes and giving it another chance; well it just doesn’t work ! At least for the serious music listeners.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Follow TheCalmDev (Dev J Haldar) on

Follow me on Twitter

Upcoming Events

No upcoming events

%d bloggers like this: