Music beyond Bollywood-in Coke Studio

The void in the Indian music industry, which has always been dominated by Bollywood, will soon be filled by Coke Studio – a platform to promote fusion music by collaborating singers from across India, who will be lending their regional flavours to create experimental music.

Bringing the concept to India for the first time, Coca-Cola has partnered with music channel MTV to create the show “Coke [email protected]”.

“This is one of Coca-Cola’s pioneering endeavours worldwide to connect with our audiences – an exceptional platform for music that has time and again given audiences an unforgettable experience of fusion music created by a unique ensemble of artists,” said Atul Singh, president and chief executive officer, Coca-Cola India and Southwest Asia.

“Through Coke Studio, we are not just creating a refreshing new genre of music but also providing a platform to this enormous pool of musical talent to showcase their unique brand of music,” he added.

As many as 45 singers from across the country of various genres like folk, classical and qawwali, will team up with other artists and churn out new composition with various interpretations.

It was a medley of music in the capital’s The Grand hotel Monday evening when singers of various genres from all over India, each with a distinctive musical flavour of their own, performed to promote heir upcoming show, “Coke [email protected]”, that endeavours to encourage fusion music away from the Bollywood space.

The Indian music industry has always been dominated by Bollywood, composer-singer Shankar Mahadevan, who sang two songs, admitted.

“Bollywood music has taken most of the share of the entire pie. There is nothing else is India which is as popular as Bollywood. Look at Indian classical music, how big and how respected it is in the west, but here in India, no one is interested,” Mahadevan said.

“Here, music is known by hero’s name. But as you see, Bollywood is huge, I admit, but isn’t our country huge too? So there are various folks artists, Sufi singers…there is so much of untapped talent in the industry, because they don’t have any takers. So Coke Studio is here to fill in that void,” he added.

The first season of “Coke [email protected]” will feature established singers like Kailash Kher, KK, Shaan, Shankar Mahadevan and Sunidhi Chauhan.

Artistes like Tochi Raina, Richa Sharma, Mathangi Rajshekhar, known for their soulful voicea, and young but promising singers like Harshdeep Kaur, Bihu singer Papon and Baul singer Saurab Mandal too will form a part of the ensemble.

Composer-singer Leslie Lewis, who is “behind the music of the show”, has come up with interesting pairings — Tochi will be singing with Mathangi to create fusion of Punjabi and Telugu compositions while Kailash has been teamed up with Tamilian singer Chinnaponnu.

“Coke Studio” is not a new concept. In fact, it is already popular in Pakistan, whose music has transcended the border to enthrall audiences in India, who until now were humming to the tunes of Ali Azmat’s rock version of “Garaj Baras”, Zeb and Haniya’s Pashto delight “Bibi Sanam Janam” and Arif Lohar’s Punjabi folk “Jugni”.

This musical show is not designed for TRPs — it won’t have any anchor and there will be no melodrama, Mahadevan said. The focus will be on engaging the audience with pure music.

“We are not at all worried about TRPs. All we want is to promote pure music, one can sit, watch and enjoy with their families. We want youngsters to enjoy the sound of various regions of India,” said Aditya Swamy, channel head, MTV India.

“This is the biggest platform one can ever get. Personally for me, I wouldn’t have been here if there wasn’t Coke Studio. So, it’s not just about how known you are, it is more about what talent you have and how much you can offer to the audience,” said Mandal.

The show will be on air from June 17 at 7 p.m. on MTV.

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