Sunday August 25, 2013

Coke Studio @ MTV, Season 3, Episode 2 (Music review) – Ram Sampath

Posted by Karthik

Individually, the Sanskrit Mahishasura Mardini stotram Ai giri-nandini (and not Tamil, as Coke Studio wishes to blasphemously term it) in Aruna Sairam’s powerful voice and progressive rock embellishment is wonderful. The same holds for Sona Mohapatra’s Tere ishq nachaya, that now-familiar and overused Bulleh Shah verses. Together, they make a mighty interesting fusion! At a thematic level, both seem to be about praising the Goddess – the former is a prayer, praising and invoking Goddess Durga, while the latter, has Bulleh Shah treating the supreme has his beloved and singing her praise!

Even musically, while there isn’t a full-fledged raga base to Ai giri-nandini, there are definitely common strains between it and the source of Tere ishq nachaya. Rahman explored it in his version of the song from Dil Se – Chaiyya Chaiyya – the line ‘Taveez bana ke pehnun use, aayat ki tarah mil jaaye kahin’ seems to match Ai giri-nandini’s tune! Ram’s exploration is less obvious and seems more subliminal, but the connection is implied and is very effective!

Dum dum andar too works wonderfully as a Gospel-Qawali fusion. Samantha and Sona complement each other really wel in their respective style even as Ram brings it all together in a winsome, easily likeable tune! The guitar is partcularly effective as a persistent bridge!

Kattey is where the fusion goes awry and seems forced. Bhanvari Devi is spectacular with her part, singing about her quest for her beloved while asking the question to assorted Gods and scriptures. Hard Kaur, on the other hand, seems to be going off tangent, tune-wise and lyrically too, about her personal journey. The lyrics of her rap are powerful and hard-hitting, but alas… if only good intentions alone turn into good fusion. No, they don’t, at least here. Hard Kaur’s portion mar the overall flow of the song as well as the essence. The music, however is mesmerizing. The rhythm is simple and addictive, while Nirdosh Sobti is scintillating in the guitar!

As for Paiyadaa, this is not the first time that Ram Sampath and Aruna Sairam are working on this track together. They already have a serene and ambient version in the soundtrack of Ram Madhvani’s Let’s Talk (2002). Also, Aruna Sairam herself has sung the more classical version of this Kshetragna padam, in its actual glory, based on Nadanamakriya raaga (Carnatic). But it is interesting to note the way Ram treats the new version, mildly different from his earlier attempt, particularly towards the end!

Listen to the Let’s Talk version of Paiyadaa, if you are keen to compare how the duo used the track earlier.

In Piya se naina, Amir Khusro’s poetry gets a frenetic pace and Ram, along with Sona (in the vocals) makes it tremendously exciting! The guitar duo – Nirdosh Sobti and Sanjoy Das – are in top form, as usual, and even Tapas Roy, on the mandolin, makes a spirited contribution, but this song is Sona Mohapatra’s show all the way. Her voice and lively singing makes this song what it is!

After Let’s Talk, Ram brings back another track from his past life – ‘Souls on Parade’ from the debut (and only) album of Colourblind (Ram Sampath and Siddharth Achrekar). Aditi Singh Sharma brings back the English lyrics from Souls on Parade, while Usri Banerjee hits all the right notes with her Bengali Chatka folk portions! Tapas Roy again stands out with his dotara usage, while the guitaring duo aren’t far behind either! The only jarring thing in this song is in the video – Aditi’s over-enthusiastic acting! This is my favorite track from Ram Sampath’s episode of Coke Studio 3, alongside Ai giri-nandini and a Soft Kaur version of (without Hard Kaur?) Kattey!

Listen to Colourblind’s version of Souls on Parade.

Barring that odd misstep in utilizing Hard Kaur (I’m assuming she could have been more appropriately employed in another song?), Ram makes a very strong pitch with his episode, almost matching A R Rahman.

PS: The digital copies of both Paiyadaa (from Let’s Talk) and Souls on Parade (Colourblind) are from my personal collection, bought by paying real money, many years ago! Considering both these albums are fairly rare, the intention is here is merely to help music fans compare notes with how Ram had adapted the sources.



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