Coke Studio at MTV Season 3 Episode 4 (Salim Sulaiman) – Music Review

salim sulaimanThe secondthird (thanks to Prashant for pointing out) debutant producers on Coke Studio at MTV Season 3. Well not exactly a debut, Salim was part of the Karsh Kale episode last season. Anyway, this is the episode I was most concerned about; firstly because I haven’t heard anything particularly impressive in their non-film works (the Dewarists song was decent, nothing spectacular). Their recent run in movies hasn’t been particularly encouraging either. Some of the artists they featured were the main reason I have been looking forward to this episode. So here are my thoughts after having seen the show.

Bismillah – Composers Salim Sulaiman more than double the length of their original Kailash Kher solo piece from the movie Azaan for Coke Studio at MTV, and gracefully so. Joining Kailash here is Munnawar Masoom, the man who did that amazing qawwali from D-Day, Murshid Khele Holi. And he does a super job here too. The arrangement from the original is kept as a base here, so we still get to hear some lovely harmonium bits from Firoz Shah (don’t know if he was the one in Azaan too). The composers spruce it up quite well with the guitars (same team as the Clinton episode – Warren Mendonsa, Nyzel D’Lima, Rushad Mistry) and drums by Darshan Doshi.

Rudine Rangeeli – It was Bhanwari Devi in the Ram Sampath episode and the Barmer Boys in Clinton Cerejo’s. And this time it is Gujarati folk legend Karsan Sagathia who comes and sidelines all else with his solo performance. Well almost all else, there is Paras Nath supporting the singer through the song, and closing it with a one minute long scorcher of a solo (with good backing from Darshan on drums) – DO NOT miss that! The arrangement is otherwise fairly regular but for some interesting additions like the conch and manjiras.

Namaste – More folk fusion, this time with a Punjabi folk trio led by Desh Raj Lachkani. And the rawness of the singers contrasts well with Shraddha Pandit and the chorus (Shannon Donald, Crystal Sequeira, Keshia Braganza) making for an interesting combo. The arrangement too has its high points, especially on the percussion front from Sanket Naik and Rushad’s bass. But overall there is something undeniably filmy about the techno-Punjabi-ness of the song – something that evokes a sense of déjà vu more than once. And that bogs the song down.

Kare Mann Bhajan – Salim Sulaiman’s tribute to Ustad Sultan Khan. Not the first time they are doing this by the way; Salim had joined Karsh Kale in adapting the sarangi maestro’s Kajar Bin last season of Coke Studio. And like with that cover, here too the weakest link is Salim’s singing. A pretty neat cover otherwise. While last year it was Sultan Khan’s son Sabir Khan on the sarangi, this time it is Dilshad Khan, who was part of Coke Studio’s Season 2 as well, most prominently in the Amit Trivedi episode. And the man is brilliant here with some fabulous charukeshi raga-based solos, particularly towards the end. The other person worth a special mention from the band is Jarvis Menezes, some lovely improvs on the keyboard (am I the only one who got slightly reminded of the keys section of Nirmohiya in some places, the second interlude especially?). If not for the vocals, this might well have been the song of the episode. (Apparently this is a traditional Gujarati song that was only made famous by Ustad with his rendition, there have been other singers too who have covered this song. Thanks to @grondmaster for clarifying this)

Sati – Haunting Vedic chants amidst the pulsating rhythms set by Taufiq Qureshi (I also see the name Shikhar Qureshi among the credits; his son?) and an elaborate strings section by the Bombay Strings OrchestraSati is a totally winning combination! Making his second appearance this season is Vijay Prakash who (again) aces the classical-based rendition (couldn’t figure out the raga; sounded like hindolam/malkauns but for the nishada @vijaynarain says it is chandrakauns) over the racy orchestration. Lovely trumpet playing by Aamir Damami too; that is interesting attire for a trumpet player!

Chheene Re Mora Chain – Composers get another stalwart for this one, Rashid Khan. And boy what a performance he gives! The veteran carries off the nuanced rendition (jog raga-based, it would seem) with ease, producing some lovely improvs. The arrangement on the other hand is highlighted by its use of strings – Warren, Nyzel and Rushad all do a fabulous job alongside the Bombay Strings Orchestra. The lyrics here are written by Shraddha Pandit apparently, didn’t know she writes songs too. But for the singing by Salim which again didn’t work much for me (singing alongside someone like Rashid Khan was bound to be a disadvantage anyway), this song is where the fusion was the smoothest I thought.

So a pretty neat episode from Salim Sulaiman that belies their recent form. Papon is up next.

Top Recos: Sati, Chheene Re Mora Chain, Rudine Rangeeli

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hi am ashok i love this song. says:

i love this song.becuse i am gujarati boy.

Vipin says:

Oh ok. Yeah I knew the lyrics are traditional, but thought Ustad was the first to render it. Will edit it then. Thanks.

Grond says:

I called my mom to listen to Kare Mann Bhajan after she was impressed by Rudine Rangeeli (it was released early). She stopped listening in the first 60 seconds. More than that, what pissed her off – she is a die hard Gujju music fan – is that the song was credited to Ustad Sultan Khan. Ustadji is just one of the few singers who made it justly famous and composed a new version. The lyrics are traditional – it is a old Gujarati bhajan sung across the state & diaspora.

Vipin says:

Hehe good to know you agree with my views again. And ya, my bad. Somehow ARR never came to mind. Will correct second to third.

Prashant says:

Vipin – Man,u wrote what exactly were my feelings about this epi,or so wud i say.Those 3-i.e,Bismilah,Sati – the Dope song (as i like to call it),and Cheene Re have been in my playlist for 3 days now.On loop…Mele mein bichde hue bhai ?? .Not exactly.*Sigh*

But i guess,this was the 3rd producer to make a debut on Cs@Mtv…Ram & Rahman being the former two.