Coke Studio at MTV Season 2 Episode 5: Review

Ehsaan Noorani and Loy Mendonsa. Two thirds of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. And the erstwhile Instant Karma, one of the harbingers of the remix era with their contemporization of Bollywood classics under the name Dance Masti, some of which (Baahon Mein Chale Aao and Saamne Yeh Kaun Aaya being instant top-of-the-mind examples) count among the best ever old song adaptations. The last Dance Masti album came out in 2006, and the duo had come together (outside of SEL) after six years to do episode no. 5 of Coke Studio at MTV. And here is what I thought of their music from the episode.

Subhan Allah – Ehsaan-Loy set a dark (Sindhubhairavi-based?) rock+techno arrangement to go with Jasbir Jassi’s rendition of Waris Shah & Baba Ghulam Farid’s sufi poetry. Being no stranger to the genre, Jassi aces the singing even as Ardeshir Mistry, Warren Mendonsa and Ehsaan (on his signature Fender!) have some neat guitar work going. Gulraj Singh’s vocoding also looks pretty interesting. Engaging start to the episode.

Mann PatangMahalaxmi Iyer was one of the singers I was really expecting/hoping to be part of the Ehsaan Loy episode. Ironically it is her part with Dominique Cerejo that made the song not work for me. The Assamese folk portion is quite nice, courtesy Banjyotsna Borgohain and Sharodee Borah’s sincere rendition, but more importantly for Rasika  Chandrashekhar’s flute playing. Not seen many lady flautists, and totally impressed by this one! Anyway, as I said, the Hindi part fails to match up to the rest, starting off well but turning into an incongruous affair later as the change of scales and harmonies complicate the song instead of adding to the appeal.

Zamana Kharab Hai – The fusion works out quite right in this one, Bhanu Pratap Singh’s classical-oriented singing seguing into Dominique Cerejo’s pop segment and a qawwali bit thrown in for good measure in between. Dominique sounds as serene as she did singing Yeh Tumhari Meri Baatein in Rock On. The short qawwali bit follows a dated template, but works for the way it is placed in the song.

Dil Loche – A very Bollywood-ish rock+Punjabi mix. Not that I have a problem with the filminess, but I do have a problem with the repetitiveness factor in the whole arrangement as such. Barring that short portion involving Prakash Sontakke’s surprise slide guitar (electric slide guitar at that; never seen one before!) cameo and Mahalaxmi Iyer’s flawless ad lib. That said, Divya Kumar is fab with his singing (He sang Aafaton Ke Parindey in Ishaqzaade and Alakh Niranjan for Gulraj Singh in Tutiya Dil, in case you are looking for a reference point).

Jo Chahenge Voh Karenge – Or Ehsaan Loy’s Song of Hope. And the composers stay totally true to that alternate title, the soothing gospel-esque tune, the mellow orchestration et al. The electric Hawaiian guitar sounds almost like a continuum fingerboard, at least at the start. Benny Dayal is spot on as usual, and the chorus joins him at the right places to superb effect – the title hook is particularly addictive. The best song of the episode, hands down. The song was apparently composed for a close friend of the composers battling cancer, and that earnestness shows.

The episode leaves you on a beautiful high thanks to that last song, but is found wanting on other counts. Good choice of artists nevertheless (I did hope to see Raman Mahadevan on vocals though, I must say). Karsh Kale up next.

Top Recos: Jo Chahenge Voh Karenge, Subhan Allah, Zamana Kharab Hai

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VIP says:

@pranav: aah wonder how i missed mentioning the hawaiian part. may be the electric got in the way, i have never seen an electric version of the hawaiian guitar. thanks for pointing out, have corrected. 🙂 And ya, barring Joh Chahenge nothing has really stayed on in the playlist.

Pranav Suri says:

That guitar is called a Hawaii guitar.
This episode was a let down, too much bollywood style. Though ‘Joh Chahenge, Woh Karenge’ is a favourite.

Pranav Suri says:

That guitar is called a Hawaii guitar. 🙂
This episode was a let down, too much bollywood style. Though ‘Joh Kahenge, Woh Karenge’ is a favourite.

VIP says:

Yup, one of the lowlights of the season really. But being the eternal optimist I am still not giving up on SEL. 🙂 Vishwaroopam sounds promising, for one.

Chunni Babu says:

This episode was a letdown. Being a diehard fan of S-E-L, it really hurts. They just seemed comfortable in their zone and the sounds were quite typical SEL. The fusion attempts were terrible with the folk singers just filling in for a typical song. EL talked about delving into jazz and going experimental, but overall I found some of the melodies to be very convoluted. Dominique’s mukhda lines in Zamana Kharab hai didn’t suit her at all. Liked Joh Chahenge Woh Karenge only. Sorry but I am finding myself slowly sneaking out of the SEL gang…it is starting to look like they don’t have much juice left or they are just taking it too easy.

VIP says:

@Akshay: Started off well, breezy and fun like you said, but then got a bit too convoluted for my liking.

Akshay says:

Man Patang somehow worked for me. Mahalaxmi Iyer and other Assamese singers were fabulous. Its quite breezy and fun