So here it is. Finally. The first episode of Coke Studio 3. Just looking at the list of people involved shoots expectations through the roof. And I guess that is a problem that you can't help but have once you find out that the first episode has Abida Parveen and Arif Lohar in it. Anyway, here are my thoughts on the episode.
Coke Studio S03E01 Reason. If anything this episode could have been called reasons, purely because of the reasons to watch it. As I've said before, Abida Parveen and Arif Lohar are huge reasons why Coke Studio 3 will be nothing short of epic.
Na Raindee Hai ~ Arieb Azhar. Last season showcased a hint of what this man is capable of. Very few artists have the audacity to even think about a spoken word track. Even fewer have the voice to carry it off. Arieb not only has the audacity but thankfully the voice too. It's listening to Leonard Cohen speak in Urdu, the words just simply give weight to the music. Definitely a reason to listen.
Yaadein ~ Karavan. Short and sweet. If I only had two words to describe the song these would be it. Karavan have been gone from our music scene for a while now and to have them on board season 3 is definitely a good idea. Our yaadien (memories) of Karavan surely got refreshed.
Ramooz e Ishq ~ Abida Parveen. The Empress of Sufi Kalaam in Pakistan, an industry icon and a venerable legend unto herself, Abida Parveen can't be critiqued. This track was flawless in my opinion. However, I will say this that Rohail Hyatt didn't capture her true essence in this episode. Her performance was something you'd expect out of her, predictable if you wish -- not exactly a strong reason to watch.
Bibi Sanam Janem ~ Zeb and Haniya. After last season, thanks to Paimona, I went on a bit of a persian song listening spree. I found quite a few (such as the awesomely brilliant Lambay by Sajid & Zeeshan) but it was Paimona that was still in my head most of the time. Now, these two ladies have done it again -- this track is clearly a good reason to tune in.
Alif Allah ~ Arif Lohar ft. Meesha Shafi. The Lion of Punjab, Arif Lohar makes his debut in Coke Studio. Along with Abida Parveen, these two overshadow everybody else in this entire episode. A fact witnessed in the behind the scenes video which shows how Meesha meets Arif for the first time and the look on her face says it all. But Meesha delivers the goods when she sings along side the master. It is probably the best track of the first episode (a close call with Abida Parveen) simply because Arif Lohar delivers on all levels, music, performance and for being plain ol' Arif Lohar. However I'm still disappointed that Arif Lohar did not get to perform with EP.
Episode 1 Reason is much stronger than the previous season's first episode. I think the decision to have two icons of folk and sufi music in the very first episode was a good decision. Having two heavy hitters this early in the show means that you can only imagine what's in store for in the upcoming shows.
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Photography by Rizwan ul Haq & Kohi Marri