An aberration from past seasons, as reiterated by producer Rohail Hyatt, Coke Studio 2020 lives up to promise.
Coke Studio 2020 is an aberration from previous years of grandeur with which the long-running oft-formidable music TV series is presented. Made as the deadly coronavirus holds the world hostage, it must be seen from a different vantage point.
Made in seclusion with artists and musicians removed from each other’s proximity, the first episode surprisingly got the songs and collaborations just right.
Meesha Shafi broke the barrier of what she can do as she rapped on the all-female anthem, the empowering tune called ‘Na Tutteya Ve’. Featuring all the female acts in Season 2020, such as Meesha Shafi, Fariha Pervez, Sehar Gul Khan, Sanam Marvi, Wajiha Naqvi, and Zara Madani, ‘Na Tutteya Ve’ exceeded expectations; Shafi composed the rap while the composition was created by Shuja Haider and arranged and produced by Rohail Hyatt. Without this rap, the song would’ve sounded weaker; it’s a legend-defining moment from Shafi, coached by Faris Shafi (take a bow). Brilliant. In a way the song is a reminder that music is no longer a man’s domain only, which has always been the belief in contemporary music. It is just as much a female-centric ecosystem and growing and to showcase all the diversity as one, it must be applauded.
Fariha Pervez, one of the most underrated singers of our times, appears for a second time with Ali Noor, who is on a quest to find and present his personal narrative via a solo album called Pagal. They come together on ‘Jaag Rahi’. It’s a song where both shine equally as the song takes you on a journey and provides answers to unasked and alarming questions within.
Mehdi Maloof, the CSS officer who charmed us with ‘Gandi Si Building’ makes his debut on Coke Studio with ‘Dil Khirki’ where he writes his own lyrics and melody. The song, while not completely like Maloof’s signature audio landscape, manages to provide a change of pace to the season-opening episode. It gives him a national platform and leaves us with a very curious song about what opening your heart truly means. Is this what we expected from Mehdi? Maybe, maybe not. But staying within the ethos of Coke Studio, his song ultimately provides comfort to us, and as listeners that was necessary between ‘Jaag Raahi’ and the colossal ‘Na Tutteya Ve’. All in all, it’s a very strong opening for Coke Studio 2020.
The second episode that will be released by the time this gets printed will feature Meesha Shafi in collaboration with Ali Pervez Mehdi; Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Zara Madani in ‘Dil Tarpe’, a “tarana” written by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan himself and an artist moving from the from house-band member to featured artist with Wajiha Naqvi who will perform a self-written song called ‘Yakeen’.
Things are looking up.
Coke Studio photography by Ali Shah