After a great deal of discussion, debate and theorizing (on and off the Internet), it is true that Rohail Hyatt has finally returned to the producer’s chair – after five years.
During his absence, an enormous deal was accomplished under Strings as producers, chief among them were recordings with artists who are no longer with us such as Amjad Sabri and Aamir Zaki. A recording with Farida Khanum and several other introductions to the series gave it the numbers and fans.
During the experimental season 11 of Coke Studio, Zohaib Kazi and Ali Hamza jointly co-produced and also unveiled a prequel to the series called Coke Studio Explorer that took them out of the studio and across multiple provinces, recording with mostly eastern musicians.
Under Ali-Zohaib’s Coke Studio, at least five bands had a chance to make their appearance, with several releasing albums on the back of its marketing and popularity. The beast that is Ali Azmat was also unshackled and he didn’t disappoint – having the courage to co-write a (euphemistic) national song at a time when they are dime-a-dozen.
This year, the show – back under Rohail’s tenure – didn’t open with a rendition of a patriotic number but a hamd featuring Atif Aslam called ‘Wohi Khuda Hai’.
Now the main season is upon us and the first episode, scheduled to release this week, is all set to feature three separate groups of artists. Among them are
Zoe Viccaji and Shahab Hussain with a joint collaboration called ‘Ram Pam’ with Shahab Hussain finally making his Coke Studio featured artist debut, having been a part of the house-band for the last several years.
The bilingual track is, believe it or not, written by Sahir Ali Bagga, in Urdu and Punjabi and is said to be a “light-hearted take on love”.
“Music gives you goosebumps. Music is something extraordinary, it plays next level games with our mind. We are attracted to it and we are also driven away by it. It has power,” said the multi-talented Shahab Hussain, whose debut should be worth watching.
The second song, another bilingual effort is by qawwali king Rahat Fateh Ali Khan (going solo) is called ‘Dam Mastam’. It is said to showcase the celebration of love for Maula Ali by Shahbaz Qalandar, with lyrics by Javed in Punjabi and Persian.
“As long as a spiritual artist respects their craft, peace prevails. It is wonderful when a singer has a noble cause, when they are spreading a message of love, peace, and brotherhood as presented by our saints, without greed of money or the world. This is the real purpose of qawwali,” said Rahat Fateh Ali Khan in a press statement.
The third and most exciting artist from the three, however, is a group called Barkat Jamal Fakir Troupe, who will be presenting a track called ‘Maahi Diyaan Jhokaan’.
Apart from the fact that they have never appeared on the show before, the song is in Seraiki and is supposed to be a desperate cry for the Beloved for which the speaker is willing to embrace earthly dislike because of it for it is “no ordinary love”.
In a press statement, noted Barakat Jamal, “Music is nutrition for the soul. Before we even sing the song, we listen to it. We understand it, then we sing it. Since my childhood, this has been my soul’s nutrition. When I sing, my soul finds peace.”
–Coke Studio season 12 is scheduled to air – today
– Photography by Kohi Marri