India takes cue from Pakistan as Coke Studio crosses border

June 15, 2011

By Annie Banerji

Usually known to adapt shows from the west like American Idol, The X Factor and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, India is set to start Coke Studio @ MTV, a rendering of Coke Studio Pakistan, which is currently airing its fourth season. It seems the two initialised an exchange of television programmes last year when MTV Pakistan asked the Indian counterpart for the licence to produce Roadies, an Indian home grown reality show.

Coke Studio, which originated in Brazil in 2007, welcomes and celebrates the diversity in unity in the genres of music, wherein the artists collaborate to offer a plethora of cultural and diverse influences ranging from classical, Sufi, folk to contemporary, pop and even bhangra (a type of music combining Punjabi folk traditions with Western pop).

Similarities between Coke Studio @ MTV, the official name of the show, and its Pakistani version may be drawn due to both countries’ historical and cultural nexus in Punjabi and Sufi music. In spite of this, having hundreds of languages across the nation, the show’s Indian adaptation hopes to reach the next level by showcasing a myriad of multi-lingual musical collaborations.

“Music is what feelings sound like,” reads the official Facebook page of Coke Studio @ MTV. The anticipation of the launch is palpable through social media. The yet-to-be aired Coke Studio @ MTV Facebook page already has over 200,000 fans and sneak peeks on YouTube have been viewed over a few thousand times.

It appears that the root to the rising anticipation of the show is its move away from exclusively highlighting commercial Bollywood music, which most Indian music-related programmes tend to do. The audience is looking forward to the assortment of talent from different corners of the country, all under one banner.

Unlike every other show in India, this programme is neither a competition nor any form of a reality show. Its main objective is to design a platform for popular musicians as well as upcoming talent to come together in order to create a fusion with their individual musical tastes and to finally record the product on the spot.

With its first season to start on Friday,  the Coca Cola and MTV India sponsored programme plans to offer its audience the experience of unedited live recordings and performances by musicians like well-known singer Richa Sharma, who has sung popular tunes for blockbuster Bollywood films and Shankar Mahadevan, one of the composers of this year’s cricket World Cup anthem. Sufi artists, the Wadali Brothers and Advaita, a fusion band from New Delhi are also lined up with these mainstream artists.

The show’s musical director, Leslie Lewis, is known in India for his collaboration with singer Hariharan as part of the Colonial Cousins — the duo mixed Indian classical music with Western sounds and English lyrics. With his experience of blending genres of music, he said Coke Studio will be “another direction for the music in this country.”

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