Music is known to encompass boundaries, borders, and religion. A language of its own, music has always worked to unite people from different walks of life, irrespective of caste, creed and identity. And this has been an unsaid motto that Coke Studio has sworn by.
After taking the qawwalis from the valleys of Pakistan (2008) and the diverse folk music from the farthest corners of India (2011) to the rest of the world, Coke Studio has gone Bangla.
Coke Studio officially launched in Bangladesh on 7 February. Named ‘Coke Studio Bangla’, it aims to celebrate traditional Bangla music across different genres to create the brand’s signature style of fusion music. The first season promises a mix of classical, folk, Sufi, qawwali and fusion music which takes heavy inspiration from the language’s rich culture and history, through the music of Rabindranath Tagore and Baul songs.
An Ode to Tagore
The tribute to Tagore was evident right from when the first chord struck and the promo for the season was broadcasted with a rendition of Tagore’s ‘Ekla Cholo Re’. Renditions of ‘Pakhi’ and ‘Amar Moner Manush Re’ originally composed by other artists were also featured.
Given the affinity to Tagore and Baul music, it seemed befitting for the first song of the season to be ‘Ekla Cholo’, a mash-up of three songs - 'Ami Kothay Pabo Taree' by Gagan Harkara, 'Ekla Cholo re' by Rabindranath Tagore, and 'Abar Hasimukh' by Shironamhin.
The medley of these three songs narrates Bangladesh’s musical journey from back in the days, to what it is today. ‘Ami Kothay Pabo Taree’ had inspired Tagore to compose Bangladesh’s national anthem, and Shironamhin’s ‘Abar Hasimukh’ took inspiration from Tagore’s music and blended it with the contemporary.
The song features vocals by Arnob, Bappa Majumdar, Samina Chowdhury, Mumtaz, Kona, Pantho Kanai, Rituraj, Masha, Mizan Nandita, Rubayat Rahman, Boga Taleb, Animes Roy and Sheikh Ishtiaq.
A major part of Bangladesh’s music legacy, and the first season of Coke Studio Bangla is inspired from the music of Tagore.
State Minister of Cultural Affairs KM Khalid told The Daily Star:
We are a culture and music loving nation. Since the 52's language movement to the liberation war - music has been an important part of our major milestones and historical movements. Bringing "Coke Studio Bangla" for Bangla speaking people from around the globe during the month of Int'l Mother Language Day is a wonderful gesture by Coca-Cola Bangladesh.KM Khalid, State Minister of Cultural Affairs
Meet Your Artists
In true Coke Studio fashion, its ‘Bangla’ edition too brings a wide mix of artists not only across genres, but also across time. From the likes of legendary artists like Momtaz Begum, Bappa Mazumdar, Pantha Kanai, Dilshad Nahar Kona, Samina Chowdhury and Mizan, you will also find yourself acquainted with some new talents in the mix.
With her roots in Baul music, the “Music Queen” of Bangladesh, Momtaz Begum, learnt music from her father, who incidentally was a Baul singer. The three-time Bangladesh National Film Award winner is known for her Baul-inspired folk music which not only makes it to films like Nekabborer Mohaproyan (2014), Swatta (2017) and Maya: The Lost Mother (2019), but also her solo albums.
The “Melody King of Bangladesh”, Bappa Mazumder takes his cues from Tagore when performing with his band Dalchhut. He is famous across the country for lending his voice to several romantic songs.
At the helm of it all is Shayan Chowdhury Arnob, a famous composer, who has joined on as the music producer and has directed the music for all the songs for this season.
Arnob’s brand of music too is heavily influenced by Rabindrasangeet (Tagore’s compositions) as well as traditional folk and pop ballads. His compositions comprise mainly of modern takes on classic songs including the likes of Tagore’s ‘Majhe Majhe Tobo Dekha Pai’, Malvina Reynolds’ Little Boxes, or compositions of Lalan fakir and Abbas Uddin.
Coke Studio has always been an immersive adventure in the world of music. Loved by people from across the globe, it has given the world an opportunity to listen to artists who they would otherwise be oblivious to. Similarly, its Bangla edition too, brings exciting prospects.