Saathi SalaamUstad (yes I would address him as ‘Ustad’. So what if MTV doesn’t?) Sawan khan shakes and stirs the soul with a captivating start to this composition and Clinton quietly makes space for himself alongside the Ustad and delivers what is easily the most powerful song of this episode. The coordination, music arrangement, lyrics, singing (and everything else which ai don’t know, but makes the song awesome) are on target. Although the ‘song info’ (on the official website) says that this song is all about the tussle that a man (not woman, just man!) goes through daily, the song can be an excellent pick to address terrorism and the fragile state in which we breathe these days. Sorry, but I couldn’t resist bringing it up. Also, must add the video of this song is the only one that stands out for this episode. Very ‘Kewl’ to see Ustad ji’ jamming with the kids and being oh so animated without making a big deal of it and without giving that ‘oh I am too cool for the camera but would love a closeup please’ look. He is just busy in his craft. I wanted to dislike the last 1:42 mins of the song but they do give a wholesome feel to the entire song. The element of finality, a fitting start to the season!. 3 Thumbs up!

Banjara –  Vijay Prakash starts off with a powerful alaap. Not sure whether this lovely verse (By Hazrat Amir khusro) required so many harkats but then, what do I know? ‘Raga illeterate, musically challenged’ that I am. Anyway, the sargam that follows delay the start of the song (but not for long, thankfully). Nandini Srikar comes in and effortlessly does what we know she can. Let down by really bad lyrics (at times, the tune is trying to accomodate extra words I felt). The song starts with the popular verses by (and the MTV site credits) Hazrat Amir Khusro, but am not sure why they forgot crediting Saint Kabir whose lines are sung by Vijay Prakash (jaise til mein tel hai, chamak mein aag, khud ka sai khud mein hai jaag sakey to jaag). The groove is awesome, the song is hollow and fails miserably. The over the top alaaps and pointless (out of sync as well I reckon, especially towards the end) killed the song that could have been a lot more. Trying too hard to prove the classical prowess are we?

Chaddh de  – A song that master salim started with a lot of promise and failed miserably due to an awkward mish mash of lyrics, music and everyone doing their own bit without realising that it should all fit in as a cohesive song. We all have seen our end of ‘performances’ in cokestudio but this song in particular comes across trying too hard to please (awkward alaaps by saleem included).

The site does credit the lyricist and mentions how sad he was at the time of penning these lyrics, but what they forgot to mention was the fact that the lines which Salim repeated till death towards the end and in between belong to Saint kabir. Trying too hard to accomodate ‘Baba bulleh shah, Hazrat Amir khusro and Saint Kabir’ all in one episode are we? Hmmm. Ok. Saddest song of this episode. Easily. The song tires you. Try it.

Madari – beautiful start with a subtle keyboard, guitar and mandolin. Vishal dadlani is light and breezy with heavy lyrics and doesn’t use much modulation to ’emphasize’ the seriousness of the song (Kudos Clinton! For this). Sonu kakkar, the female lead singer of this song tries too hard to sing the lines crom ‘Baba bulleh shah’ with a different twist. It sounds cool once but repeating it again and again killed the momentum of the song. Not k owing where to stop, may be. Anyway, ‘Baba bulleh shah’ isn’t credited by MTV either in the ‘lyrics info’ section. Vishal salvages this song well. Still undecided on the song. Hear it to decide for yourself.

Mauje Naina – Arguably the best song of the episode in terms of originality. Bass and dhol (yes dhol!) create just half impact as the vocals of Bianca Gomes, Shadab and Altamash literally drag you out and leave your senses in the open jungle filled with cheat, gulit and deceit. Cokestudio Pakistan attempted mixing english words here but in my view, they failed miserably because the lyrics were out of context anyway. The beauty of this song, however is the atmosphere it creates. It’s like a theatrical depiction filled with BLACK and BLOOD. The hindi words (and the style of singing) is very ‘naina thag lengey’ sorts. Bianca’s voice is catty and full of inviting undertones. Don’t let the soft start to this song fool you. This is dark and dark is all shades of black and not grey. Highly, totally and completely recommended. Something so original and so beautiful that one is willing to excuse the season 1 completely and call this a beginning and a gutsy one at that! Superb superb superb!

Dungar – beautiful choir singing alongside Ustad Sawan khan! Ok! Now we are talking about cokestudio! though a short track, Clinton manages this very well and gives us a taste of what is it about the word ‘fusion’ that we love. A top class composition. Watch out for the last 53 seconds of the song when Ustad ji and the choir sing together. For me, this is the high point of the song. Simply stunning!

My picks – Saathi Salaam, Mauje naina and Dungar

Much of my grouse with Cokestudio India has subsided due to the above mentioned songs from this episode. If i try hard to find out 3 original songs from last entire season that i liked, I will fail to do so. Also, superb initiative by MTV to air this season on Doordarshan as well. Excellent work by Clinton and now all eyes and ears on the Epsiode 2 that should hit us tomorrow evening! Mighty happy to see Hindi poetry getting it’s due because I fail to understand why the Indian version of CokeStudio should sound like the Pakistan version? Look for poets here…there are way too many who are yet to find their voices on a bigger scale and what better platform than CokeStudio?

Fail to understand why Ustad sawan khan is not mentioned in the artist section of the website, image below.

Also, still no free downloads?

3 Thumbs up for the start!