The Pakistani edition of Coke Studio has had a theme around each of its episodes – something that MTV never borrowed to the Indian version. Ram Sampath’s episode stands out from the rest in that sense; the episode is themed on “Devi”, a celebration of the various forms of feminine power (he speaks of that in detail in this interview with us). Between this and the composer’s track record and the artist lineup, there has been enough to look forward to regarding Episode 2 of Coke Studio at MTV Season 3. My thoughts after seeing the episode, below.
Kattey – In his interview with us Ram Sampath had spoken about the joy of leading a kickass band on Coke Studio. And the kickass-ness of the band is in full display in this heady fusion piece – particularly Shirish Malhotra on viola, Jai Row Kavi on drums and Nirdosh Sobti on the lead guitar. But ruling all else with one stunner of a performance is Rajasthani singer Bhanvari Devi. And smartly interspersed with the earthy folk singing is Hard Kaur’s rap version of her life. The rap lyrics don’t always work, but the contrasting mix does work very well indeed!
Dum Dum Andar – This one (celebrating unconditional love, as per the makers) sees a neat incorporation of a mod qawwali piece into a gospel rendition. Ram chooses two accomplished singers in the genres – Sona Mohapatra and Samantha Edwards – both of whom do a fabulous job of delivering their parts. In the backdrop, Sanjoy Das’ guitar work stands out especially; and nice to see a lady tabla player (Swarupa Ananth in this case).
Sundari Komola – Ram Sampath revamps a song from his Colorblind days, Souls On Parade, fusing it with a Bengali “Chatka” to splendid effect! The sinister arrangement in the original is replaced with a folk-based one – the guitar + dotara (played by the awesome Tapas Roy) combo having you hooked from the word go. Being her home turf, Aditi Singh Sharma sings the original rock song segments with practiced ease, while Usri Bannerjee (singer of Manmauji in Gangs of Wasseypur, wife of singer Bonnie Chakraborty) does a super rendition of the Bengali part.
Payyada – THE song of the episode! Ram’s adaptation of the famous kshetrayya padam set to nadanamakriya raga is basically a cover of what he did in his debut movie Let’s Talk. Like in the movie, Ram keeps the arrangement at a blissfully minimal level, some basic chords being played on the strings (lute and guitar in this case, the former played by Shirish) and the occasional keys for most part. Which leaves the centre stage for Aruna Sairam, and what a recital she gives! At a recent concert in Bangalore, the singer had in fact sung another padam and said that this was a genre close to her heart. You can feel every bit of that passion in the rendition, and combined with the ethereal flamenco-flavored arrangement, this one is a sureshot goosebump-inducer.
Piya Se Naina – After the relatively quiet Payyada, this one is pretty much the other extreme with an array of instruments making up the orchestration. But what is similar with the previous one is the fact that this one too is owned by the singer, Sona Mohapatra – the lady is impeccable with her delivery of the classical-based composition (multiple ragas, desh being a noticeable one) on Khusrao’s lines, well supported by the chorus. Tapas Roy’s mandolin rendition deserves a special mention too – loved that solo in the second interlude; only wish it were longer.
Aigiri Nandini – As a fusion piece, this one follows a structure similar to Dum Dum, in that Sona Mohapatra’s delivery of Bulleh Shah’s now popular Thaiyya Thaiyya is packaged within Aruna Sairam’s Mahishaasura Marddini Stotram. Just that here the packaging isn’t as seamless. The song gets a super start with the stotram part, building up to a high, and then things get a bit complicated. After a contrived-sounding guitar lead comes Sona’s part, which is good if heard as an individual piece, but at odds with the initial half. My favorite part of the song is that short bit towards the end where Aruna Sairam’s base rendition resonating over Sona and the chorus going Thaiyya Thaiyya.
So barring that one song, Ram Sampath delivers a winner as the teasers promised – this season of Coke Studio at MTV is already looking very very good!
Top Recos: Payyada, Sundari Komola, Piya Se Naina