Coke Studio at MTV Season 2 Episode 7 (Shantanu Moitra) – Review

Kir Le Rawh – In an otherwise folk-dominated episode, Kir Le Rawh offers a predominantly western sound. Mami Verte’s singing, albeit of Mizo lyrics, has a very world music feel about it. And Shantanu Moitra gives a very pop-ish arrangement to back the singer. Except when Kaushiki (Desikan) Chakraborty (daughter of Pt. Ajoy Chakraborty, for the uninitiated. Rahman fans would recognize the name, she sang a song apiece in Water and Jana Gana Mana) makes her appearance with the classical portions. Good song, particularly for the lovely rendition by the ladies. The arrangement has its high points, the seamless shift in mode for the two singers in particular, but overall it turns out rather prosaic compared to what follow in the episode.

Vandiyile – A Tamil song. With an interesting combo of Usha Uthup and La Pongal. Love the way the song mixes the retro styled East Europeanesque portions (that accordion!) and the folk section. The exuberance of Tamil folk goes without saying, it works even better with the colourful attiring of the artists. Usha Uthup and Anthony Dass don’t let any dip in that energy happen from their side (albeit with seeming pitch issues in places).

Lagi Lagi – A Swanand Kirkire trademark rendition to start off, and then it is Kaushiki Chakraborty and Pratyush Bannerjee (electic sarod) who rule the track all the way. The two interludes are particularly brilliant, first one for the fabulous alaap by Kaushiki (hamsadhwani raga, it would seem) and the second one the sarod. I have always loved to listen to the khol, and this song the composer employs it quite well. The recurrent title hook where everyone joins in is an absolute delight. Fabulous piece!

Pinjra With Swanand Kirkire’s lyrics paying homage to Kabir, the arrangement seeing guitars amidst a folk arrangement, Pinjra in many places seems like an Indian Ocean song (interestingly the last time I saw Indian Ocean perform, Amit Kilam was playing the gabgubi, seen here played by support vocalist Bonnie Chakraborty). And I mean this not as an allegation of plagiarism, but as a compliment to Moitra – the song is as original and lovely as they come. Wonder what that instrument that Franco Vaz played by hitting on a string with a bow.

Khwaja Baba – The song of the episode. The contrast between the sedate classical rendition (jog raga?) by Pranab Biswas (he has sung previously for Moitra in Lage Raho Munnabhai and Raajneeti) alongside a loud earthy Baul singing by Bonnie Chakraborty in itself makes this an interesting listen. And the sax+accordion combo in the arrangement adds a third angle to the whole thing. And like a showman introducing himself while bowing out, the composer does a short vocal solo towards the end.

Contrary to his predecessors who tried a variety of genres, Shantanu Moitra sticks to a folk base for most part of his set of songs. And produces another winning episode for Coke Studio India Season 2. Just surprised that Moitra did not bring in Shubha Mudgal, a person with whom he has had some wonderful collaborative works.

Top Recos – Khwaja Baba, Lagi Lagi, Pinjra

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VIP says:

Accordion I always love. 🙂 And it was well utilized in this episode. But otherwise, the gabgubi sounded prominent enough no? Loved the episode anyway. Moitra seems to be in fabulous form.

Chunni Babu says:

I am still digesting Shantanu’s work, but here’s my take for now – a bit disappointed with the mixing – Sounds of the khol or the baul instrument gagbugi should have come out and hit hard..but it felt like they were somehow drowned in the mix. In Indian Ocean concerts, when Amit plays it, it just completely stands out..Also Franco Vaz’s percussion was almost inaudible…video showed him picking up various percussion instruments but I could barely hear what they sound like.

Secondly, i thought the songs stayed true to the folk music with some drum/guitar added idea, but was missing innovation..something I saw in almost all the other composers. I liked the accordion though.

Keys section was really weak..the only interesting thing was the use of keyboard bass in a couple of songs.