On Second Thoughts

After failing to strike the right chord in season one, Coke Studio hopes to find success with eight producers this year.

Written by Suanshu Khurana | Published:May 21, 2012 3:48 am

After much anticipation,when Coke Studio @ MTV finally arrived in India last year,it was cited as one of the most significant imports to the country. It was not only supposed to mark MTV’s return to music — a concept that was much publicised with the series after “music” on MTV went off-key in the last couple of years — but was also intended to please the Indian audience beyond the boundaries of Bollywood. However,all it gave us,barring a couple of good (at best) performances,was music that lacked freshness,an assemblage of details with no soul and an attempt to cash in on a brand name for fusion music dominated by popular Bollywood names.

“Whatever you do,criticism will be there. The audience does not know what it likes and you have to give them something to latch onto. MTV is about respecting popular culture and that is exactly what we did by broad-basing the music,” says Aditya Swami,Channel Head of MTV,who is now bringing Season 2 of Coke Studio @ MTV. Putting behind last year’s debacle,he promises that this season will be different. For one,Leslie Lewis,the producer of the series last season,is not associated with it any more. Eight producers — including musicians Karsh Kale and Shantanu Moitra,composer and singer Swanand Kirkire,composers Amit Trivedi and Sri Ram,musician and ace guitarist Nitin Sawhney and music arranger Clinton Cerejo — have been roped in for eight episodes. “We can’t expect one person to bring in so much creativity in a short period of time. Things will start sounding stale after a while. This year,the freshness will be brought in by way of different producers and different bands for each episode,” says Kale.

Bollywood will no longer reign on the show. “It will be all about originals this year. The marketing point of the show will be India’s diversity and Bollywood can never be and should not be its true representation,” notes Moitra,who is producing the second episode. Kirkire agrees. “Films and their presence is quite strong in India,but I am not here to follow rules. I am just going to make music and not worry if it has a mass appeal,” says Kirkire,whose episode will feature Mami Varte,a powerful voice from Mizoram.

Moitra hopes to adopt a more natural and organic process of creating music and not get subverted by the mass market. “You will see a motley bunch of people,who will not give you any straight-jacket music. We are looking at some crazy improvisations,” says he. Kirkire points out that this is the model that was followed by Coke Studio Pakistan. “You swayed with it. Everybody had a different energy and seemed happy,” he states,adding,“It became important to them as a social revolution and sounded beautiful.” There it was — a different world,where we not only found music,but also a cackle of laughter. The camaraderie on that live stage was so contagious that it became more than a music show. Can we replicate the same experience in India? Season two will tell.

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