Coke Studio made quite the impact with its eleventh season opener, ‘Hum Dekhenge’. It was appreciated for its diversity, old artists returning to the fore and newer ones that were discovered on Coke Studio Explorer, a new module that was introduced as a prequel to the series earlier this year.
The set has gotten a revamp and looks more appropriate for what they’re calling Coke Studio 2.0. While ‘Hum Dekhenge’ was launched last month, the new season was launched this weekend with a colorful evening in Lahore.
The timing for launching the new season is crucially been sandwiched between General Elections 2018 and Independence Day and it seems to have a definite air of patriotism. The event had a good turnout, with Allama Iqbal’s grandson Mian Yousaf Salahuddin present, Salima Hashmi and Muneeza Hashmi - daughters of the renowned poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz - along with artists of the season: Aima Baig, Ali Azmat, Asim Azhar, Amrina and Ariana (the Kailash girls), Asrar, Attaullah Esakhelvi, Fareed Ayaz, Abu Muhammad Qawwal & Brothers, Abrar-ul-Haq, Haniya Aslam, Humaira Arshad, Jimmy Khan, Khumariyaan, the (transgender) singers Lucky & Naghma, Lyari Underground rap group, Momina Mustehsan, Mughal-e-Funk, Natasha Baig, Rachel Viccaji, Sahir Ali Bagga, Shamu Bai, Shuja Haider, Chand Tara Orchestra and Sounds of Kolachi among others, along with the house band.
Before the official launch, the host, Mr. Abbas Arslan, Marketing Director Coca-Cola Pakistan & Afghanistan, talked about how Coke Studio wanted to push boundaries this season, both literally and figuratively. “We asked ourselves what the new generation of Pakistan wants, their wishes and desires for the country. They are tired of Pakistan being divided along provincial boundaries of Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi and Pathan. The new generation just wants a united Pakistan – not one based on borders, nor a man or a woman’s and not one different for the rich and poor.”
He then explained how Coke Studio’s mission has always been to blend boundaries in the past 10 years by mixing qawwali and rock, pop and folk together and this time they had to take the agenda forward and dig deeper. “This year will be the biggest, boldest, freshest season - we have 12 languages, 35 instruments with 70 artists who’ve composed more than 40 songs. We have not two genders but three,” he said to crowds roaring with applause.
Another significant change for this season was Ali Hamza and Zohaib Kazi helming the season as producers. Both have been a part of the platform in the past; Hamza performed in season two and on several seasons since then whereas Kazi was involved backstage and as the general manager for the past six years.
“When the discussion about season eleven started, he had the freshest ideas including that of Coke Studio Explorer,” Mr Arslan elaborated. “Ali and Zohaib travelled 5500 kilometers and discovered some brilliant talent that’s included in this season.”
Kazi then took to the stage and shared, “We thought about what we can do to ensure that the conversation of Pakistan goes forward. We realized the scale of the show; with 180 countries watching we had a massive opportunity to reach millions of people and we knew we wanted the message of a united Pakistan to shine through.”
Ali Hamza shared that music has the ability to transcend all languages and share a journey in a melody or few words. “Music is a powerful tool to spread a message so this is ours to the world. From Hunza to Karachi we have many gems and we must find pride in them all – this is the thought we took forward with season eleven,” he said.
The first episode that debuted on the day had four very diverse songs with varying influences - ranging from Fareed Ayaz’s signature sound of qawwali to rap from Lyari Underground and Jimmy Khan showcased in a whole new light as well as a female anthem by some supremely talented women who make up the music scene.
So far, there’s been mixed response on the songs but there’s good reason to look forward to the rest of the season.
– Photo Credits: Faisal Farooqui @ DragonFly