Coke Studio has become the evolved form of our music industry. Rohail Hyatt started Coke Studio back in 2008 and under his tutelage we have seen the fusing of traditional eastern music blend with western music become the norm in Pakistani music. Coke Studio introduced SYMT and Meesha Shafi in a way they were never seen before; it took us back to the cultural wealth of our musical industry by bringing folk into the show. We weren’t the only ones watching it though, in 2010 about 25% of all Google searches in India were about “Coke Studio Pakistan”
In no time, Coke Studio had become a new export to our neighbors and inspired them to try to create similar musical magic in India. After receiving Rohail Hyatt’s blessings for an Indian reincarnation of the show, Coke Studio @ MTV was started and had quite a rocky start with its first season spearheaded by the incomparable Leslie Lewis.
Aditya Swamy, the head of MTV India, had a pretty good grasp of what the problem might be. Rohail Hyatt deeply invested in every aspect of the show because its an outlet for his vision. Says Swamy “Rohail is a genius, but no producer in India would ever dedicate themselves to one project with so many opportunities present.” and so Coke Studio @ MTV was reincarnated to incorporate multiple producers and the new formula was extremely well received.
Many agree that Coke Studio @ MTV has helped develop a platform for the alternative music scene within India which is still dominated by Bollywood music. Wasim Basir of Coca Cola goes further in saying “Places like the well-known Hard Rock Café are playing our music and asking us for live performances, which is never the case for Bollywood music, the level of acceptance has been great.”
Coke Studio @ MTV has become one of the few Indian programs that pays homage to a Pakistani Creation. They aren’t really competitors because they both are unique and Swamy and Basir are the first to admit that Rohail’s Studio has been a game changer that has helped transform the Indian music industry as well as Pakistan’s. “As a local radio jingle goes these days ‘Britney chali gayi aur sufi agaye’. There was a time when we [in India] used to just have a particular DJ night at clubs, but now we [also] have Sufi nights. I am really happy that this influence is coming from our neighbouring country,” Swamy says. “This is how Coke Studio and Pakistani musicians have changed the game!”