Despite all of the sociopolitical and economic
odds it faces, art serves not only as a breath of fresh air but also
motivates those exposed to it. Recently, episode one of the second
season of Coke Studio titled Individuality was aired on private
networks across Pakistan, giving audiences a flavour of the music
coming out of Pakistans biggest music collaborative venture.
a formidable ensemble of artistes and musicians; the close-knit team
that brings together this project spearheaded by Rohail Hyatt
includes his wife, Umber �Ma� Hyatt (producer), son Danial Hyatt
(animations and visuals) and Zeeshan Parwez (video production) assisted
by Anan Malik.
performances which in essence concluded that music knows no boundaries
and is not constrained by language. The collaborative performance
between Saieen Zahoor and Noori, and the rendition of Paimona by Zeb
and Haniya featuring Peshawar-based Sadiq Sameer on the rubab, were a
clear testament of this statement. A total of five performances were
aired and here we review each of them:
Aik Alif by Saieen Zahoor & Noori
seems to be a song, a story and a message embedded in each wrinkle on
Saieen Zahoors weathered face. The performance definitely wasnt Noori
featuring Saieen (as has been the traditional practice in the past of a
pop act featuring a classical/folk act) but the other way around. The
collaboration performed Baba Bulleh Shah�s poetry with Saieen Zahoor
lending his raw, powerful vocals to sing the opening verse of the song:
Par par aalam fazal hoyan,
Kadi apnray aap noon parya e naen;
Ja ja warda mandar maseetan,
Kadi man apnray wich warya e naen
a momentary silence we had Ali Hamza playing the banjo while Ali Noor
rocked out his vocals, which served as an interlude between Saieens
performance and Ali Hamzas deep, soulful rendition of Bulleh�s poetry.
This was one of the more uplifting tracks, with innovative arrangement
and diverse but harmonious collaboration.
Aj Latha Naeeo by Jawaid Bashir
classical artiste in his own right, Jawaid Bashir, who is also a member
of the Mekaal Hasan Band, brought his powerhouse vocals to the studio
with Aj Latha Naeeo. Displaying the virtuosity in his almost
overpowering vocals, his performance was very much like what he would
do when performing with MHB � show off his talent and skills by a
constant and sometimes, repetitive rendition of alaaps and paltein
during the song.
The music backing
this performance pleasantly complemented the intensity of the vocals
without being intrusive or crowding the song with too many things at
one time. Definitely one of the better performances in the episode.
Jal Pari by Atif Aslam
have never been a big Atif Aslam fan. In fact, I have at times found
the hype surrounding him nauseating. But I was forced to reconsider
that stance after seeing his performance of Jal Pari at the Studio.
This fun and soulful version reached out and tugged at heartstrings
while he almost effortlessly maneuvered his vocals over the lyrical
content of the song often shifting the mood from soulful to romantic
to frivolous, never once threatening to have his voice blast out in his
signature style and neither did he over sing the song keeping it at
just the right levels. At least when it comes to Atif, this rendition
of Jal Pari definitely made a believer out of me.
Khamaj by Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan
song will forever be immortalised in the Saqib Malik-directed black and
white video of Khamaj showing an unfulfilled, unexpressed, secret
love shared between a film-maker and his leading lady.
version was light, displaying some keyboard work by Jaffer Zaidi. The
song was nostalgic at best. Shafqat being an extremely gifted vocalist
communicates the emotion dominant in the original version effectively.
Having said that, there wasnt a radical change in this version from
the original, with Shafqat�s vocals dominating the song more than the
Paimona by Zeb and Haniya
version of Zeb and Haniyas Darri/Persian/Pushto Paimona not only
served to mesmerise from the moment Sadiq Sameer began plucking at the
rubab strings, but served to haunt us later on as well. At this point,
keeping the socio-political conditions of our country in mind, the
performance of Paimona was more than just for entertainment. It was
symbolic of music originating from a part of our country caught up in
conflict and turmoil. It served to reinforce the fact that this part of
our culture which hasnt been projected as much as those indigenous
to other areas of the country is just as much of our collective
identity as a nation as is the music that comes on mainstream media in
Urdu or Punjabi.
You could almost hear
the rubab echoing in the mountains as Sadiq performed the opening solo
of the song while everyone watched in absolute silence. Zeb and Haniya
also gave a stellar performance, seemingly maintaining the essence of
the language while they sang. Compared to the original, this version
definitely had more groove, more soul and was one of the best out of
without a live audience, this year the Studio has an air of intimacy
about it among the musicians, how they communicate with each other
and how the camera captures them. Madeeha Syed