With the great Wadali Brothers at the helm of affair, one really didn’t need any more prodding to watch Episode 3 of Coke Studio @ MTV. Once again I missed the show on TV, and had to do a lot of searching around to find out the correct order of songs. In any case, here is my review of the episode. Click title. Watch song.
The episode opens with Wadali Brothers singing a traditional Sufi song calling out to the beloved, fused with an Assamese folk song set on a similar theme. And for the Assamese part we have the immensely talented Mousam Gogoi who was last seen outshining Sunidhi in the Bichua cover in the first Episode. And here too he does a fantastic job with his part. That he holds his own in such imposing presence in itself speaks volumes about Mousam’s talent. Even the fusion is lovely, at times it is hard to tell between the sufi and the folk portions if you are just listening to it. And if you thought the vocals were the only thing to look forward to in the song, wait till you hear the duel between the flautist (Paras) and the percussionist (Bondo) in the interlude.
I have loved Coke Studio people’s choice of Bollywood songs for the show. In this episode they choose Ravindra Jain’s composition for the 1991 movie Henna, sung by Lata Mangeshkar. But barring the fact that Lewis gives Sunidhi and the sufi duo a free rein in their rendition, the song has the least amount of studio-ness seen on Coke Studio so far. Yes Lesle (just discovered today that he has done away with that “i” in his first name) does remove all the typical Bolly-Punjabi elements that adorned the arrangement in the original track, but he only succeeds to replace it with that of a contemporary Bollywood song. The chorus singing “Fly Away” or whatever that is, adds to the Bollywood feel. Listening to the vocalists is a treat nevertheless; Sunidhi hasn’t sounded this lovely in a long long time and Wadali Bros. carry out their cameo well.
Another song that the duo have performed in the past, but with many Coke Studio-special variations. For one thing there is Tapas Roy credited on the saaz, rabab and mandolin (though I saw only the saaz being played). Oh a little something about Tapas. I had happened to meet this man when he came to our insti as part of Kailasa. A very unassuming chap who plays some hajaar stringed instruments for people like Amit Trivedi, he even has a variant of the tumbi that he developed on his own and was looking to patent at that point. Coming back to the song, there isn’t much to be said when you have the W. brothers handling the vocals. Just sit back, enjoy. 🙂
A repeat from the first episode, you can read my views on the track here.
A very imaginative fusion of this beautiful Sarah McLachlan song and an Amir Khusro poem — Divya Lewis handling the former while Mustafa, Qadir and Rabbani Khan sing the latter. If you try not to do the obvious comparison with McLachlan, Lesle’s daughter is a fine singer indeed. Murtaza and Qadir I believe are the same people who have collaborated with Rahman a fair number of times. I have loved their singing then, and here too I did. The kind of background Lesle sets for this, dominated by the acoustic guitar, tanpura and tabla, is ideal for the devout song that Maula Maula. And kudos for the choice of a pop song that perfectly fits with the sufi track.
The first jazz (or is it blues? I get confused every time!)-flavored song on the show. Doesn’t sound very impressive at the start, but gets absorbing as it progresses, helped by Sunidhi leading the vocals and some wonderful instrumentalists, the flautist Raj Sodha in particular. The sensuous quality of the track is conveyed well by Sunidhi who has made a living out of those sort of songs in Bollywood. Mousam Gogoi makes an entry towards the end with a super, but woefully short, folk bit. I have become a total fan of this guy! Khagen Gogoi is supposed to be the current legend on the Assamese folk scene, and if Coke Studio is any indicator, Mousam looks very much poised to take up the mantle from him.
Some exceptional artists, some good music from a spread of genres, I guess this is about the best that Coke Studio India can touch in terms of quality. But call it the Southie in me outraging, I m disturbed by the minimal representation of South Indian folk/carnatic music in the episodes. Barring the two songs in the first episode there really hasn’t been any fusion involving South Indian music. The ending of Allah Hi Reham did sound carnatic-based, but I doubt that was an inclusion by design. And of course the Indie bands. Where are the Advaitas and the Raghu Dixits? I thought there was supposed to be one every episode. There might be a plan to bring in those in a later episode, but wouldn’t it be a better idea to have a fair balance between all genres every episode? Aren’t these the ones that would truly differentiate the India edition from the Pak edition, than Sufi or Punjabi? Just thinking out aloud as a fan.
Music Aloud Rating — 7.5/10
Top Recos — Tu Maane Ya Na Maane, Aa Mil Yaar, Maula Maula