Coke Studio India: For true fans of music

Published: June 22, 2011

The average music lovers may or may not like it but the true music fans definitely will!

I have never seen the Pakistani version of Coke Studio, and had no expectations from the Indian version. What I knew from the promos was that this is a bold attempt from MTV to bring back to its fore what it originally stood for – quality music. It did not disappoint.

For all the talk about the comparison of the Indian version with its Pakistani counterpart, I do not think the comparison is fair as both the cultures are diverse and rich and hence, the music emanating from both has a different soul to it.

What I loved about Coke Studio @ MTV is that this is the first commercial attempt to bring folk music to the mainstream in India. India’s folk music is a treasure trove waiting to be tapped and appreciated throughout the world. All four regions boast of different cultures, sounds and experiences and all combine to result in great music.

The format is also excellent wherein they have popular Bollywood singers along with folk singers. This is a good way to ensure that even the average music lover watches the show. And the best part about the show is the non-Bollywoodisation of the songs. Justice has been done to the folk songs and the essence of the songs is maintained.

My personal favourite is “Yaar Basainda,” a wonderful collaboration of Punjabi Sufi folk and Carnatic music, sung by Tochi Raina and Mathangi Rajshekhar. Tochi’s raw voice combined with Mathangi’s melodious singing makes for an unusual but great pairing. The song also has a rock feel to it.

Shankar Mahadevan, who undersings in Bollywood for his talent, along with Assamese singer Khagen Gogoi, combines two regional songs, “Tip Top” and “Me Dolkar.” The song is good to listen to but the vocals of both the singers don’t really combine seamlessly.

“Vethalai,” sung by Chinnaponnu and Kailash Kher, has a groovy tune to it and the Tamil singer sure makes her presence felt. The instruments used are indigenous which add to the feel of the song.

Personally, I was a little disappointed by Sunidhi Chauhan and KK, both highly gifted singers. KK’s low-scale singing is a little bit of a disappointment when he joins the Sabri brothers for “Chadhta Suraj.” The essence of the wonderful qawwali seems to drown somewhere.

Sunidhi too, doesn’t challenge herself too much when she croons “Bichua” with Bondo. Although the young singer is a powerhouse, the song leaves much to be desired.

Shaan does a decent job along with Saurav Moni in their rendition of RD Burman’s famous “Maajhi Re.”  What stand out are the flute interludes in the song.

The final song “Hoo” sung by Harshdeep Kaur in her soulful voice marks a perfect ending to episode one of [email protected]

One of the minuses of the show was the instrumentation which could have been done better at various places. Also, the quick camera cuts prove to be an eyesore. The producers of the show can also contemplate giving subtitles to the songs. It will help the viewers understand and appreciate the songs better.

All in all, the show is a great step by MTV to bring Coke Studio to India. Kudos to Leslie Lewis too. Yes, it is a risk giving so much air-time to non-regular singers or non-film music but it is well worth it.

The average music lover may or may not like it but the true music fan definitely will.

Shashank Venkat

Shashank Venkat

A journalist living in Mumbai.

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

  • Saad

    I dont know, the Indian version just doesnt do it for me.

    Its nothing compared to

  • Binod

    I want rahat fateh ali khan to perform in coke [email protected] its my heartful request bcoz he is my fav singer & i love his voice and his sufi genre.Recommend

  • lol!

    I have never seen the Pakistani version of Coke Studio – Lol you must be kidding me! If you have such great taste in music that you are blogging about it,id STRONGLY RECOMMEND that you start listening to Coke Studio(from its 1st season!).

    And how can ET allow to share links? He’s promoting MTV CokeStudio here, nothing else!

    For people replying to keep my cool for good of the music, direct that to the blogger – who haven’t seen the Pakistan version of CokeStudio yet! buahaha Recommend

  • Adeel Ahmed

    Had you seen Coke Studio Pakistan, you would have realised how poor Coke Studio MTV really is… Coke Studio ORIGINAL, which is in Pakistan, is miles better… and original is always better anyways…

    Watch for yourself… Recommend

  • Natasha Suleman

    I suggest you start watching Pakistani coke studio.Recommend

  • Nick

    Guys n Gals the Indian version may not be liked in Pakistan and that’s fair enough. But then how could you be expected to like the Indian version. Its going to be very different right..firstly there are different musical traditions here far beyond the north which the attempt atleast is to combine..some of them which are not part of any joint cultural or musical tradition that parts of India share with Pakistan. Secondly and a point related to the first is that there are perhaps 6 or 7 states where the lingua franca is similar to the one in Pakistan, so obviously any thing beyond these states may or in another case may not be liked. While we have borrowed the format and its a great one @ that and there are some similarities, there are also many differences. Recommend

  • Imran Suhail

    @Adeel Ahmed:
    Coke studio started i Brazil but yes coke studio pakistan has been great and will probably stay true to music and experimentation.Recommend

  • A.I

    O bhai, MISS TAREEN hay Coke Studio India. No diplomatic offence or any thing, but your biggest music is made by Pakistanis. So it’s onlynatural you know..take it easy on yourself though. You’ve got a solid economy and all. But when it comes to Music…by god, you guys suck.

    P.S: Don’t mention over rated A.R Rahman.Recommend

  • http://Mumbai Blunt!

    No one in India watches cokeStudio for the reason that these kinds of shows are not a rarity here. I won’t be surprised if there are more pakistani viewers than the Indian viewers for the Indian versionRecommend

  • Tracy

    Coke India is a joke!!Recommend

  • Norwegian Pakistani

    I think this is wonderful. The majority of non-Indian audience only listens to Bollywood or the pop music from the Indian music industry. This is a wonderful platform to listen the folk music of India. Recommend

  • Shah Hayat Ahmad

    I believe this is a paid-marketing/blog-post. But do watch all of Coke Studio before tuning into Coke Studio India.Recommend

  • Faisal

    just a collaboration wont make a show good , the music is bad in coke studio India and so does the arrangement of the songs … either dont write such articles or either watch coke studio Pakistan.Recommend

  • Javad

    Why on earth do we always have to compare. Be proud of the fact that CS India was inspired by Rohail Hyatts CokeStudio. I am very sure CS India has a lot to offer in the coming episodes.

    So let us just enjoy the music! Recommend

  • antony

    @A.I , AR Rahman over rated is it ? .Have you tried listening to his music from 1990 (Roja) till 2009 ( before Slum dog ) First listen and then comment . IF still you cant get it then you better dont talk about music .Its not your cup of tea.. Also bollywood is not the only indian music. There are plenty of film music other than bollywood … Dont swear on Indian music when you dont know much about it ..Recommend

  • Asad

    If the author has not seen Coke Studio Pakistan then what is this blog post doing on ET a supposedly Pakistani e-newspaper site? Try to publish blogs/reports related to Pakistan please. I think there are more important issues around us.Recommend

  • Azka

    I mean no harshness, but trust me sire, you should listen to best of Coke Studio Pakistan. I heard MTV CS, but that’s not even close to what excellence we’ve been experiencing for 4 years. I wish CS MTV des very well, but 1st episode is simply average, except for O Majhi Re Shan’s part….

  • hamza khan


    agree totally. the indians can claim they dont believe the pakistani version is the same, that each is good in its own right, but the response on youtube that coke studio has garnered is no where near what coke studio at mtv is seeing. when it gets there, we’ll change our minds. i would recommend the author to view a couple of coke studio classics and make up his mind about the production and arrangement quality.Recommend

  • Azman Rana

    Coke Studio Pak has no match with indian version …… Its Nt quality version its tym wasting n totally baqwas.Recommend

  • Hamna

    Come on fellow Pakistanis! Give it a break. It is true that Indian coke studio didn’t appeal us but maybe Indians liked it. Besides this was first episode so we should wait and watch before carrying out hasty judgements.Recommend

  • Hamna


    How we Pakistanis take CS MTV is irrelevant. We are not the target audience. The real question is how Indians are reacting to first episode? If they think it’s good then perhaps it’s good.Recommend

  • Sameer

    @ Norwegian Pakistani – great point but let’s also remember that Bhangra has become huge in India and the rest of the world thanks primarily to Sikh singers in the UK in the 1980s who resurrected it for future generations to savour. Bhangra has truly become a global music sensation.Recommend

  • Ovais

    Extremely poor production. I like the synth, however, the guitarists and drummer piss me off, bass is still fine. There are so many instruments but not arranged properly. And wth is up with bollywood antics!?!? the I can’t blv CS Indian couldn’t do better in terms of set and camera work, in fact they copied CS Season 2 set. I was actually looking forward to good stuff from CS India but its soo damn disappointing. Someone please shoot guitarists and the drummer. The drums are not even tuned right. I cant get over the fact that its so badly produced, vocals sound pathetic.Recommend

  • Pakistan ka Allah hi Hafiz!

    We have big heart to give our neighbour a little space to blog about CS India, what’s wrong with that ?
    When do you guys would actually understand the word TOLERANCE and practise it ? Don’t we seems to have problem with anything and everything ? C’mon give me a break, this is insane.

    Stop isolating your thoughts and minds and give it a little bit of free go and make space for others. Yes, if they can’t able to do the same towards, who cares, we would still be doing right and conscience will be satisfied.

    But, No, our conscience has been full of hatred, lack tolerance, unacceptable to any across borders. Till ? Recommend

  • Noumaan Shamsi

    My Indian friends were so excited for this, but were disappointed by the first episode. I think its because they had seen the Pakistani version and thought that Rohail Hyatt did a much better job. But I agree with you, that there is so much more musical talent in India than there is in Pakistan that CS India could be massive! However, that requires good direction and for the big guns in Indian music to actually come forward and contribute. You need your own Abida Parveen and Arif Lohar, along with some Atif Aslam and Strings, to steal the show.
    I look forward to more excellent music from both CSs. Recommend

  • Yasir Hasan

    Thanks for sharing links to the entire episode… :p… Recommend

  • Abdul Rehman

    I am not surprised to see India launching coke studio, from ads to movies in each and every thing they are imitating others. orignal versions are always better until u bring improvements. this is far more seem to advertise indian version CS. Recommend

  • Abdul Rehman

    dear, forget tolerance and everythng, read title its Coke Studio India: For true fans of music.
    I am just taking it as a SERVICE and my comment is just analysis of it on the basis of services they are providing and the way they are providing it,
    will you see god tussi great ohh after watching bruce almighty. whats new in it?
    why its for TRUE fans?Recommend

  • Abdul Rehman

    and rest its not a battle between Pakistan and India. its between Coke and Pepsi or more precisely a local version of Coke where you are giving same but you cant compete the taste.Recommend

  • from india

    if somebody tries to judge the quality of indian music by watching few episodes of coke studio then i must say that person is fooling himself … if tomorrow a pakistani version of saregama is launched and the show disappoints people from both side of the borders, then it doesnt mean pakistan lacks talent or quality music !! Recommend

  • Abdul Rehman

    lol, scope is not indian music, we are talking about coke studio india. dont mess the scope.Recommend

  • Aninda Chowdhury

    the purpose of coke studio is to look beyond bollywood …so asking bollywood singers to perform folk songs may not serve the purpose…

  • from India

    Also the purpose of CS India is not to do better than Pakistan, in that case, why not Brazil ? Few days ago, I saw few comments where Pakistanis called Indians copycats. Well is it not that Urdu is an Indian language which has no relation to Pakistan but still its the national language of the Islamic nation ? Why not Sindhi, Balochi or Punjabi for that matter ?

    I watched CS Pakistan on youtube and really enjoyed it. You can appreciate or criticize the music but comparing them makes no sense. Recommend

  • Ali

    Well done to India for doing this. I as a Pakistani would like to hear more stuff from India that is NOT bollywood. Open yourselves up to listening to something different, and broaden your horizons. We are all South Asian, Punjab isn’t better than Bengal, Tamil Nadu isn’t better than Kashmir or Sindh, Gujerat isn’t better than KP or Assam. Each are different but under the big umbrella of South Asian, like Germany and Spain are different but all European.

    Each provoince and state in our region is unique and so is the music and culture. I look forward to listening to all these other sounds and influences. So i wish Coke Studio India all the best and look forward to hearing interesting compilations.


  • Maira

    In our coke studio, we have listened so many singers for the first time. But the way Rohail Hayat presented them, hats off to him. Even the youth now is listening to Mundri and Kangna. Rohail Hayat and pop culture of Pakistani is a big difference between two countries.Recommend

  • RUK

    @Pakistan ka Allah hi Hafiz!:
    Boss! people are talking about Music and you are something else.Recommend

  • RUK

    @from India:
    Well said Dear.Recommend

  • Zia

    Advertisement and promotion is it? What other products is the tribune allowing for sale next on its blogs and pages?Recommend

  • zehra khan

    Being a part of Media Industry ;this is a big disappointment from Indian industry as they have a pool of Talented musicians ,Playback Singers,creative Minds,Graphic Designers ,Directors,DOPs’ ,Music composers and so on .And music is in the blood of Indians ,music is indian culture .but they Progress 0 in Coke Sudio .This proves that Indians are not in Pop Music Industry ,Indian Coke Studio Producer Should Rebuild your team from Direction to Music Composers.Coke Studio @ MTV Requires a Excellent Direction.
    The main disappointment is from director & camera man .

    “What an IDEA sir Jee + Coke Studio @MTV= DISAPPOINTMENT”Recommend

  • RealityCheck

    My dear friend before indulging into the domain of Coke Studio it would have been nice to atleast watch few episodes of Coke Studio Pakistan, that might have provided you with a reference.

    In India it is not easy to go against Bollywood music form which dominates almost every form of Indian music genere. This is a bold move indeed. The Indian fans should give Coke Studio a chance as it might develop into some thing of a launching pad for other music geners.

    I am not exactly impressed by the first episode, but still I am hoping for some great music coming out of Indian Coke Studio. Good Luck.Recommend

  • Ammar Ahmed Qureshi

    i dont have anything against India or USA or anyone but man seriously this is nothing as compared to CokeStudio. the title is hilarious.Recommend

  • Saurabh

    According to me…they were battling on many levels. One – trying to match up to the originality from Pakistan and show a more diverse music culture. Two – Get attention from all corners of India, hence inclusion of many languages to try and make the first episode a success. I felt Leslie Lewis gave up on the sense of direction…didn’t like the compositions as much. Shankar Mahadevan was a total let down. With that rich experience, he’s proven to be a wanna-be…with all due respect. However, few performances stand out. “Hoo” by Harshdeep Kaur..have seen her perform live…and clearly at 24 she’s paving her our way towards being a Sufi Sultana. Even the composition of Tochi and Mathangi Rajshekhar was good to hear…Could be because, barring the carnatic, these two were closest to Coke Studio Pak.Recommend

  • Prakhar srivastava

    C’mmon guys… sufi music is more popular and of common interest in public, that’s why it seems that pakistan CS was better, coz songs were easily undrstandable, where as the indian one is emphasizing on folk. it’s a big treat for those who understand assamese folk or the other folks. atleast i enjoy a lot… by the way, the both CS can not be compared i think, both have diff taste..Recommend

  • Hina

    @ saad..200% agreed…!!!Recommend

  • Muhammad Faysal

    I have never seen the Pakistani version of Coke Studio? are you kidding me? Recommend

  • Azka

    Well, its not all Sufi music in CS Pak, there is more of folk too, infact its a mix, let it be sufi, folk, or even recent hits by our pop or rock artists, n even the folk songs made us addicted, be it, although I don’t speak or even understand Pushto, still I loved this song like anything. So its not about folk, or some foreign language, music has no language… :)Recommend

  • Sonika

    Interesting read !Recommend

  • Faheem

    Very mush Disappointed!! Not only Pakistani classical and folk musicians but also vocals are far far better than Indians; without any exaggeration. Recommend

  • Karim Javed

    I have listened some of the songs from MTV Coke Studio and you can’t compare the MTV version of Coke Studio with Pakistani version. If you are a real music lover then you must try Coke Studio from Part 1 where it begins. Music that they have made mixture of Jazz, Rock, Pop, Classic Damn that’s awesome. Even sometimes i feel that the music should be in Hollywood movies.Recommend

  • Amin Ullah Khan

    Coke Studio India is no match to Coke Studio Pakistan.Recommend

  • Anthony Permal

    Your opening line totally let down your entire post, my friend. You’ve never seen the Pakistani version of Coke Studio, yet you feel the need to comment on the technical, vocal and aesthetical highs and lows of the Indian version.

    I am not comparing, but I’ve seen all of Pakistan’s CS and the Indian CS so far, and while India’s version has a ways to go, it is a decent start. One cannot expect perfection from the get go. However, one DOES expect some measure of creative discipline. CS Pakistan takes months and months to produce one season, yet India’s MTV decided to create an entire season in just 2 months. No wonder voices aren’t syncing and the music is at times not in synergy.

    In an effort to cash in on the global popularity of CS Pakistan, I fear MTV may have pushed too hard. Take your time guys, this isn’t going anywhere, have patience and create a better show.

    As far as haters are concerned there will always be haters on both sides. They nullify the whole purpose of music: unity.Recommend

  • Adnan Khan

    Coke Studio MTV! Sucks… :)

    Original Sub say hatkey Pakistani Coke Studio !

    Copy tu Copy hota hai!Recommend