Bollywood star Shilpa Rao features in Coke Studio

Coke Studio’ chalks up another first for the music industry of Pakistan by featuring Bollywood sensation Shilpa Rao, in the fourth episode of this season, which was aired on all leading television channels on Saturday.

At the age of 21, Rao gave her first Bollywood hit “Tose naina lagay” which was well received by audiences across the subcontinent. She has hits like “Khuda Jaane”, “Subhanallah”, “Malang”, and “Mehrbaan” to her credit as well. Talking about her ‘Coke Studio’ performance Rao said, “’Par Chanaa De’ is a very beautiful song. It is literally a theatrical saga because the song has emotion, anxiousness, longing to meet your loved one and hope. It’s a folk song and the words are very hard hitting.”

Rao has also performed on ‘Coke Studio India’, and talking about her experience with the platform she said, “It’s one place where I think all the musicians are in an environment, and where they have their instruments, space and the freedom to choose anything and convey it to the people in their own style. And that is powerful! I think it’s a great place and we are fortunate enough to be here.”

The episode featured four songs, including “Ala Baali” by Nirmal Roy and Jabbar Abbas, “Aaya Laariye” by Meesha Shafi and Naeem Abbas Rufi, “Uddi Ja” by Mohsin Abbas Haider and “Paar Chanaa De” by Shilpa Rao and Noori.

“Uddi Ja”, marks the debut of Mohsin Abbas Haider on ‘Coke Studio’, playing to the strength of the lyrics penned by himself, and easily settling into the euphoric atmosphere of the music directed by Jaffer Zaidi. In a mesmerising song, originally composed by Mohsin, his vocals drift on the surface of the melody, whilst the undertones of the qawwali part conjure layers of emotions that hold on to the listener. Maintaining the soul of the melody, the intimate setting of the music reflects the traditional feel of the instrumentation played at shrines.

“Ala Baali” – literally translated from Arabic means ‘you’re on my mind’ – and this track is exactly that: infectious, fun and addictive. A multilingual love anthem, penned by Shakeel Sohail, it captures the sentiments lyrically in Urdu, Arabic and Punjabi. The powerful drive throughout the song rests on an Arabic beat and a Persian rhythm to build a momentum; the track composed by Shiraz Uppal is underlined with energy, featuring plenty of grooves that come together to form the perfect platform for Nirmal and Jabar’s layered vocals, complementing one another naturally.

The third song, with its soulful indie-rock feel, “Paar Chanaa De” is a grand duet of music directors Noori featuring Shilpa Rao. An oral tradition passed on to the brother duo by their grandparents, it’s a song that they have considered as a family treasure since long. In the beginning few chords, the track establishes the earthy soul vibes that transcend in waves laden with a distinct melody and instrumentation. Noori and Shilpa Rao’s vocals, independently encapsulate the listener earnestly, as the soundscape further develops with Noor Zehra’s impeccable groove on the ‘Sagar Veena’. In an exhilarating performance, the track commands your attention ever so gently.

The final song of Episode 4, “Aaya Laariye”, is an epic collaboration in an upbeat track, which showcases the dynamic vocal prowess of Meesha Shafi and Naeem Abbas Rufi. A perfectly mixed fusion of funk and rock that begins as a seemingly subdued ballad, it swiftly dissolves into a catchy tune comprising a traditional feel of a wedding song, dotted with slight experiments in a signature ‘Coke Studio’ style. The recognizable vocals of the duo merge with lush harmonies and kicking drumbeats, as the house band adds an added punch to a song that radiates oomph throughout the duration of the track.

Following on the momentum built up by the first three episodes, episode 4 takes Season 9 of ‘Coke Studio’ to an even higher level of excitement, creating great anticipation for the further episodes to come.


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