New Delhi: Coke Studio's India version premiered on MTV on Saturday amidst huge expectations and buzz among music fans. While, there were fans who were waiting for India's version irrespective, there were people who were waiting to see if the India version can be as magical as the Pakistan version. And that was the reason why Coke Studio @ MTV's first episode got a mixed response.
While there were music fanatics who loved the performances, there were fans who were critical about the show.
Coke Studio @ MTV did not start off with the fervour that was expected out of it. While the show's first episode kept its promise to stick to music by starting off straight with a song by Shaan, it somehow, could not get as intoxicating as was expected.
The show started with RD Burman's melody 'Maajhi re' sung by playback singer Shaan, accompanied by saurav Moni. Shaan, who always sings with a smile kept the song easy flowing. What added to the song was the flute midway that made the song sound beautiful.
Following this, was a Punjabi song 'Yaar Basainda' performed by Tochi Raina. South Indian singer Mathangi Rajashekhar accompanied. The song somehow could not manage to gain tempo and the combination of the singers appeared to be mismatched. There did not seem to be a continuity in where the first singer left the song and the second took over.
Next was the mix of singer-composer Shankar Mahadevan and Assamese singer Khogen Gogoi, who fused two regional songs 'Tip Top' and 'Me Dolkar'. The co-ordination between the two singers came out well as the songs blended perfectly. But again, while the music could be well heard, it could not be well felt.
Then came a Tamil song 'Velathai', sung by Tamil singer Chinna Ponnu, accompanied by fusion singer Kailash Kher, who mixed the song with Hindi lyrics. This combo came out to be the most lively jam of the episode with both Kailash Kher and Chinna Ponnu tapping at every beat and enjoying the music as well as each other's company on stage. The song that was about a husband and wife's conversation with each other, sounded fun as the south Indian dholak's taal met with the beat of the drums.
In Sunidhi Chauhan's performance of 'Bichua', the percussionist Bondo and the male vocalist Mousam Gogoi stole the limelight. The song, however, could not offer anything extraordinary, despite an experienced singer.
The last two performances - 'Chadhta Suraj' by KK and Sabri Brothers, and 'Hoo' by Harshdeep Kaur were disappointments, as they lacked variations as expected out of Coke Studio. The art of playing with music seemed missing in these two performances and so the energy of the episode towards the end went down.
Music appreciated, but magic awaited
All in all, the opening episode of Coke Studio @ MTV, struck some great chords, but the 'magic' and the 'soulful music' is still awaited. There is still more to come up in the show, as singers like Wadali Brothers, Richa Sharma and the show's music director Leslie Lewis take stage in the upcoming episodes.
The idea to bring together singers from different genres and different places, is indeed a different step taken by the show in India, and it seems, will work for the show as not many shows in India, have this kind of a format.
Another limitation is the regional languages. The show should carry subtitles for regional language songs, for the viewers to understand what they are listening to. If a viewer enjoys Chinna Ponnu singing, Vathalai, he/she wants to know, what exactly is the song saying.
Coke Studio India's comparison to the Pakistan version is another factor that may prove to be a tough one to meet for the show.
While, this is just the beginning, there is more in store. So, while, I found good music created, I would not end up saying, no magic, but would rather say, magic awaited.