Coke Studio At MTV Season 3 Episode 6 (Amit Trivedi): Review

amit trivedi coke studioAnother of the season’s most anticipated episodes because, well, Amit Trivedi. The man had delivered one of the best sets in Season 2 of Coke Studio at MTV last year, and his works in Bollywood since then have also yielded some fabulous music off and on. So high hopes. My thoughts after watching the episode, below.

Rabba – This one plays in the same space as Amit’s own Nirmohiya last year – a Punjabi flavored piece with a mild lounge-ish feel about it. While in the last season it was Shankar Tucker’s clarinet, this time it is Sukhjinder Singh with the algoza who forms the centrepiece of the groovy arrangement. Not all is hunky-dory though – the singing by Tochi Raina is just average for most part. On the other hand Jaggi does a decent job with the Punjabi rap.

Sheher – Pretty much same fate as the first song. Neat arrangement, weak vocals. Joining Coke Studio Season 3 yet again, with a mandolin in this song, is Tapas Roy who is employed brilliantly here too.  And his combination with the guitars by Warren Mendonsa, Rushad Mistry and Darshan Doshi‘s drums makes for a compelling base. But what is built over that doesn’t quite match up. The tune is just decent, and Tanvi Shah seems out of her comfort zone singing Swanand Kirkire’s lines and that tells. Amit Trivedi joining in towards the end doesn’t improve things either.

Khari Khari – Third time’s the charm indeed; Amit finally gets everything going right in this one. Kavita Seth and Rajasthan Roots’ Kutle Khan expectedly own the folk-flavored rendition. And most prominent among the artistes backing them are Arshad Khan on esraj (the same man who played those lovely cues in Maanjha and in Badri Badariya on Coke Studio last year), Tapas Roy on saaz and Sanket Naik’s percussion. That final solo bit by Warren Mendonsa with Arshad Khan and brass band-esque percussion from Sanket Naik and Darshan for accompaniment does stand out as odd, but makes for a nice listen nevertheless.

Naariyan – Amit gets two more playback singers for this one, both of whom he has worked with in the past – Karthik and Shalmali Kholgade. Between the two of them and the chorus comprising of Dawn Cordo, Murishka DCruz and Ardelia DCruz, the vocals section of this song is secure (wonder why Kausar Munir used the word naariyan in an otherwise contemporary-styled banter though). The arrangement begins with a filmy hangover of Amit’s own songs, but gets progressively better, ending on a rousing high. That whistle-trumpet (Kishore Sodha) duet is particularly nice. And trippy bassline from Rushad.

Kyun Na – Hindustani-carnatic fusion piece that interestingly seems to employ the same raga combination of yaman and kalyani that ARR used in Aao Balma. Most of the vocals are handled by Dhruv Sangari (who had sung a song in the final episode of Season 2) and Karthik (slightly disappointed that his Carnatic faculties went unutilized), with a short but very effective cameo by Chandana Bala – her jamming with Finix Ramdas is one of the high points of the song. Apart from Finix (he was behind the lovely violin portions in Madras Café’s music), the strings section also has some lovely playing from Tapas on the charango and Sanjoy Das on guitar.  The other highlight in the arrangement is the well-imagined percussion jamming that opens the Carnatic section – B Shree Sundarkumar on konnakol/kanjira, Alan DSouza on beatbox (the same guy who beatboxed to the MTV Unplugged version of Genda Phool) and Rais Khan of Barmer Boys on morchang. Would have been perfect if not for Sundarkumar’s totally redundant “Yeah Come On” and “Kanjira Man” bits. So an engaging (albeit slightly flawed) fusion piece to close the episode. Like last year, Amit stops with just five songs this time too.

So the episode has some good music, but Amit too is unable to match his own stellar performance from Season 2.

Top Recos: Khari Khari, Kyun Na, Naariyan

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