Coke Studio @ MTV Season 1 Episode 2: Music Review

Another episode of MTV’s most useful initiative in recent times. Despite whatever flaws the opening episode might have had, I am sure anyone following music would have been waiting for the show. So was I, and this time I was lucky to catch it on Friday itself, thanks to MTV uploading the songs onto youtube almost immediately after the show got done. My views below. Click on the song title to watch the song on youtube.

Dheere Dheere — Megha Sriram Dalton

Episode 2 kicks off with Megha Sriram Dalton (who you might know by this song from Anwar) presenting what is termed a medley of four songs from Bihar and Jharkhand (Dheere Dheere, Nazar Barchi, A Ra Ra Ra, Janimani Ka Fashion/Phaisan). But it turns out to be Dheere Dheere followed by a medley of the other three songs due to the clear divide. But having songs from two ends of the spectrum helps as a wonderful showcase of Megha’s vocal prowess. The way she is almost crying out the lines of Dheere Dheere at one moment and brightly dancing to Nazar Barchi at the next, is admirable. She is not flawless in her execution, no, but what she lacks in technical finesse she more than makes up with her exuberance. The flautist is excellent in the interludes, especially the long solo towards the end.

Allah Hi Reham — Shankar Mahadevan

First song on the show which qualifies as a true Bollywood product, having been created by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy for the Karan Johar movie My Name Is Khan. And thereby a lovely example of how a Bollywood song can be adapted to a studio version. The original from MNIK was a sufi song of course, but it was very SEL-esque in its implementation, and though Ustad Rashid Khan headed the vocals, he was once again straitjacketed by the Bwood factor. At Coke Studio though, Leslie gives the arrangement a total revamp with the lead instrument being a sarangi, which creates some truly memorable moments. And giving enough time for Shankar Mahadevan to cut himself loose, which he does fabulously in the last three minutes or so. It is lovely the way Shankar gradually steers the song away into carnatic territory as it progresses. Minor lapses in control, pitching etc. do happen, but I am willing to overlook all that for that last segment. This is the Shankar Mahadevan I wanted to see on Coke Studio, I am happy. 🙂

Path Kai Paare Koi — Khagen Gogoi

Though the fusion he was involved in didn’t quite work for me due to the discordance, Khagen Gogoi on an individual level had made an indelible impression in the last episode. Hence it is with great hopes that I sit to listen to this one. And my hopes are not misplaced the least bit. There is a cuteness (for want of a better word) to the way Gogoi sings, and this cuteness is perfectly complemented by Lezz in his arrangement, keeping the modern instruments like guitar and keyboards to a minimum while giving prominence to the ethnic ones like the flute and the gogona. As a result when the sitar comes in the interlude it sounds particularly imposing, and the effect is lovely. Equally impressive is that change in tempo towards the end. And when I use “cuteness” to describe Gogoi’s singing, it is in no way understating his ability to handle the classical nuances.

By the way has anybody else heard that “piriti piriti piriti” portion, that Gogoi sings towards the end, elsewhere? I am sure I have, but unable to place it.

Mehrmaa Ve — Akriti Kakar, Shankar Mahadevan

A song composed by Shankar for Akriti’s self-titled debut album that came out last year. Not that I have anything against this song, but given the fact that this song received considerable air time having had a music video and all, and the album has other good songs which not many might have heard, I would have expected Akriti to choose another track. Nevertheless.. Once again, Lezz gives the song a complete makeover, there is nothing much from the original arrangement apart from Akriti’s practiced singing — barring some minor improvisations she reproduces the track as is. One of the best things about the new arrangement is the use of harmonium in the initial half. And in the latter half Shankar’s humming in the interludes. And another good thing, perhaps for the first time in the show I heard the voice of the backing ladies. Clearly MTV has worked on the sounds. Overall though, the Coke Studio version didn’t impress me as much as the original, may be its just me.

Jiya Laage Na — Leslie Lewis, Shankar Mahadevan, Khagen Gogoi, Akriti Kakar, Megha Sriram Dalton

The last track (technically, the song after this is a repeat) of the episode is an own comp by Leslie Lewis that has him playing the acoustic guitar and bringing together all performers of the episode on the vocals. Hats off to Lezz for creating a piece that, despite its pop-base, doesn’t make any singer seem out of place. He even includes the sarangi and sitar players who have been spectacular this evening. Unfortunate that the flautist didn’t find a place. Like with the episode, Shankar Mahadevan provides the classical-based axis (once again kalyani-based) around which the others build their portions, all in line with what they earlier performed in the episode. And they all fit to the tee, be it Khagen’s Assamese bit or Megha’s Bihari (I assume) segment. There is a Chinna Ponnu-esque infectiousness about Megha’s singing too, something that comes out prominently in this one. Add to that a wonderful array of instruments and the backing vocalists pitching in at the right places, and you have a winner (another one to add to our theory that songs having acoustic guitar as dominant instrument never fail! 🙂 ). Lovely way to end the evening.

I treat the previous song as the last one of the evening coz the show actually closes with a rerun of Tip Top+Me Dolkar by Khagen Gogoi and Shankar Mahadevan, review of which I have already recorded here.

An episode much more in line with what I expected of Coke Studio at MTV, with much less issues as compared to episode 1. Some might have problems with there being too much of Shankar Mahadevan, but as long as he is creating stuff like he did in Allah Hi Reham I don’t mind that at all. And in two episodes the show already has its first big contribution in the form of Khagen Gogoi — what a singer! So here’s looking forward to more lovely music and more such artists from Coke Studio India in days to come.

Music Aloud Rating — 7.25/10

Top Recos — Allah Hi Reham, Jiya Laage Na, Path Kai Paare Koi

VIP says:

@Victor: Good to see a comment from the show’s creator. 🙂 And happy to know you liked it. I have always tried to bring forth an impartial view in my reviews. Hope you read my review of episode 1 as well..

Victor says:


Great Post. As the creator of the show, it really feels great when somebody really understands the thought and the work that has gone behind making this show. Great writing and a big thanks 🙂