Coke Studio: Why are people loving it

  • Badrul Duja
  • Publish Date: Aug 12 2018 9:31PM
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  • Updated Date: Aug 12 2018 9:31PM
Coke Studio: Why are people loving it

Coke Studio is back with season 11 promo and coke studio explorer which is as usual a big hit. Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s historic poem Hum Dekhengey (we will see) is the new sensation and in 2018 we are witnessing a poem written in 1979 against the clampdown of Gen Zia turning into a youth anthem, thanks to Coke Studio.

“Take Kashmir, give us Coke Studio” was the response of journalist Jyoti Malhotra to Hamid Mir while discussing Kashmir issue. In India Coke Studio Pakistan is the most popular music TV show on YouTube with more fan base from India than Pak. For the first time in 2008 world listened to the melodies of Pakistani music with the introduction of Coke Studio by Coca Cola Company. More than eight years have passed on and CSP is among the top in Asian mp3 charts and in YouTube viewership all over the world. At a time when western music has been domineering listeners of the world, an alternative musical institution emerged from South Asia with the name of Coke Studio Pakistan.

What makes CSP so special? The answer is their focus on traditional musical heritage which they are reviving by fusing it with modern music instruments and singers. They are in other words reviving traditional music and writings by fusing it with modern music and the result is in front of us, whether it’s Aafreen Aafreen, Tajdar e Haram qawali or Allah Hoo, all have been the most popular musical melodies re-created by CSP.

Season 10 featured Allah Hu Akbar qawali by Shafqat Amanat Ali and Ahmad Jehanzaeb, such compositions and songs are religious in nature which is difficult to get propagated among listeners of other faiths but the school of Coke Studio Pak makes it chartbuster amongst listeners of different faiths.

Until the day CSP emerged South Asian music was dominated by Bollywood musical system where different movies demanded different music. Thus ghazals, sufi, classical, qawwali, religious music, Kafi music lost its significance in Bollywood as mainstream movies had no place for such genres.

Kafi music, which is based on the writings of Baba Bulleh Shah, Baba Fareed, Shah Niaz, Kabir, Amir Khusrau all their writings have been featured in CSP and their impact was such that Bollywood started composing music from their writings. Jugni from Cocktail, Bulleya from Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Sultan, Tajdar e Haram from upcoming Satyame Jayate movie, Kabira from Yeh Jawani hai Deewani etc. CSP successful broke the stereotypical Bollywood style music prevalent by providing different genres of music to listeners such as Qawali, Sufiana, Classical, folk, regional, western etc in front of the whole world. So, a layman from Asia or from West gets to listen to different genres of beautiful eastern music in one show. Similarly he gets to hear music and songs in different languages such as punjabi, urdu, balochi, persian, Sindhi, english. Thus CSP is representing Afghanistan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Iran and Bangladesh as people in these countries are familiar with these languages. With this diversity in music, language and genre CSP is now as the music industry of South Asia.

Shahroz Ahmad Siddiqui, an aspiring Kashmiri singer in Dubai says, “Coke Studio has created musical composite culture across Asia and due to its success, studios and music productions like Nescafe Basement emerged which further strengthened musical heritage of South Asia. In UAE you will find artists of Coke Studio Pak performing in front of audience from India, Pak which is bringing people of this region together.”

In 2012, Nescafe Pak started Nescafe Basement, a musical television concert similar like Coke Studio paving way for college goers and aspiring artists to reach heights of success. Such a marketing method is highly effective as MNCs like Coca Cola company and Nescafe are popular not only for their products but for producing quality music.

In the famous book ‘ Kashful Mehjob', Data Ganj Baksh writes how Amir Khusrao introduced Qawali in India to propagate Islamic teachings and values as people in India were fond of singing and listening to music, same is true of CS in propagation of values, teachings etc. Due to CSP Tajdar e Haram Naat sung by Atif Aslam has crossed more than 140 million YouTube views all over the world with its listeners mostly from India and West. This is what music does.

On 11 July 2018, Kashmiris all across the globe had tears of joy in their eyes when Coke Studio Explorer released first ever Kashmiri song on their platform - Ha Gulo by Mohammad Altaf Mir and team and written by our beloved poet Mehjoor. As usual we all loved the song, and more, the nostalgic memories and visuals of other side of Kashmir made our eyes wet again and again. Certainly music influences your heart and generates warmth, love and peace within you and impact is in front of all of us.

On lessons of business and promotion, Coke Studio Pakistan is the best example to learn. The name of coke is inherent in the music brand, such a method of advertising is something which our entrepreneurs and commercial institutions have to learn. Coca Cola Company is serving its two purposes through CSP, one is promotion of their brand name second is their contributing in promoting regional music of Pakistan to highest level. As a Kashmiri I wish to see JK Bank coming up with such an initiative as it will boost their name as well as local Kashmiri talent.

The most important contribution which Coke Studio Pak has served is in creating a sympathetic, soft and music loving image of Pakistan. A country identified for its domestic and international problems is now known for Coke Studio. This is the best way of cultural promotion for a state in pursuing its national interest and in creating a people friendly image all over the world especially among the citizens of the world. Concept of Soft Power in international relations is very well practiced by Pakistan. We as listeners and lovers of CSP wish to hear a collaboration of Indo-Pak Coke Studio as it will produce the best from South Asian region. Till this collaboration is done, we thank Coke Studio Pakistan in showcasing the rich South Asian musical heritage to the whole world.

(Badrul Duja is a law student and a music lover. He can be reached at