Four reasons why Coke Studio’s Afreen Afreen is my new favourite

Published: August 23, 2016
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Coke Studio’s second episode went on air on August 19, 2016, and Afreen Afreen, sung by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Momina Mustehsan, stole the limelight – rightfully so. While some loved it and others hated it – for me, Afreen Afreen encompassed exactly what Coke Studio is all about.

Coke Studio started nine years ago, and succeeded in bringing famous Pakistani singers together on a platform in order to recreate some of the most legendary songs of the past. When I say recreate, it should be made clear that recreation does not mean singing it again, as it is, rather it means creating something new, with the essence of the old.

Diametric emotions

Rahat and Momina’s version of Afreen Afreen is the complete opposite of Nustrat Fateh Ali Khan’s (NFAK) version. While the latter is a passionate qawwali of an admirer completely blindfolded by the beauty of his lover, the Coke Studio version praises the lover with subtlety.

The original Afreen Afreen showcases the lover talking to himself; whereas the Coke Studio version turned the song into a praise of beauty for its listeners.

The different versions highlight two completely opposite, yet equally beautiful ways, of praising the love of their life.

Female addition

Momina’s pairing with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan was probably the best innovation seen in the music industry in a long time. Although Rahat Fateh Ali Khan seldom sings duets, when he does, his powerful voice overpowers the vocals of his female counterparts, for example, Shreya Ghosal.

Shreya Ghosal is an extremely talented singer, but the duo were a mismatch in Teri Meri Prem Kahaani. On the other hand, Momina’s voice had the perfect amount of edge and innocence; her voice complimented his voice, as well as the song perfectly.

Direction

The direction of the song is what makes it one of the most beautiful recreations so far. Originally, the song was heard through a male perspective, but Coke Studio’s version brings in the female perspective as well.

“Nazroon ne teri chua, tu hai ye jadoo hua, honay lagi hoon main haseen.”

(Your eyes met mine, and ever since then a spell has been woven, I feel I have become beautiful)

The aforementioned line adds a beautiful and holistic feel to the narration of the song.

Another plus point about this version is that the male and female vocals are not arranged in a conversational manner, as normally done in duets. Instead, they are arranged as parallel solo thoughts that enhance the emotion behind the song.

Rahat, Momina, and Faakhir

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan gave his best, he submitted himself entirely to the song and that strongly resonates throughout. He tried to recreate a legend in the best possible way.

Momina is a total charmer. She had the entire nation go gaga over her by simply sitting on a chair and singing two lines with a smile on her face. That’s what you call screen presence and talent.

Her on-screen fan girl moments with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan contributed beautifully to the rendition of the song – it kept the legendary essence of the song alive.

Lastly, Faakhir did a splendid job with the music arrangement. He recreated a fast-paced qawwali into a midnight stroll kind of song.

Way to go Coke Studio! Keep surprising us.

Kinza Arshad

Kinza Arshad

The author is postgraduate student of English Literature. She tweets as @ArshadKinza (twitter.com/ArshadKinza)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Keyboard Soldier

    Its not about the song. Its about this new fair-colored girl who can sing. The song really has been about this new face called momina.

    Nusrat died in 1997. More than 80% of the Pakistan’s current Twitter population wasn’t even born then. Therefore, all this hoopla over the song is just funny.Recommend

  • Mehak Baig

    This is a very well written observation Kinza Arshad. Your ability to appreciate such innovations in the field ofmusic is remarkable! :)Recommend

  • Babu Rao

    No way, I think this latest version must be categorized separately and should not be even compared with the only version sung by NFAK because the legend would always overshadow and people would show hatred. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is a commercial singer just like many others in the industry and merely being a relative doesn’t guarantee quality, though he gets projects for that one reason. Moreover, the whole of your writeup envelops the details using a marketing lens which obviously is an important aspect in the modern commercial world.Recommend

  • YaaranDaAccount

    Lol, what does supposedly being ‘fair-colored’ have to do with this?Recommend

  • Dr Arshad Kalliath

    Babu Rao may be right, as a connoisseur he may be. But for the aam aadmi , as far as music is concerned, like me ,this song is superb. That is why in Trivandrum, Kerala, far removed from the culture of Hindustani music, I’m having this song in my car and phone playlists…Recommend

  • abhi

    They killed the song. It sounds like a bhajan now.Recommend