Just when most critics thought Coke Studio had become irrelevant and repetitive — not just because of its style of presentation, but the boringly similar studio sessions and even its artist line-up — one of the most successful music shows from Pakistan is up for a major overhaul. As the show enters its 11th edition in August this year, with a brand new team of producers — Strings are out, and younger musicians Zohaib Kazi and Ali Hamza are in — there is a great deal to look forward to.
Knowing fully well the popular sense of curiosity, and in order to permit the viewers an inside view of the show as well as to reveal the broad message within, the makers are coming out with a prequel first. It’s said to be a series, titled Coke Studio Explorer, which starts on July 3 and will include five episodes.
True to its namesake, Explorer will document the big hunt for indigenous music talent — raw and untapped — across the length and breadth of the country. Each episode will take the viewers along on the journey of discovery, from the Hindu Kush mountainous region and the pagan Kalash community residing in its lap, to the beautiful valleys of Kashmir, the awe-inspiring deserts of Sindh, and the cold and dry hilly terrains of Balochistan, and then culminating in Lahore’s Walled City.
The talent thus discovered will be part of the 11th season of Coke Studio.
As such, both the Explorer and the main show this year promise to celebrate cultural diversity and pluralism by way of music. This is one important message for humanity that must be told, especially in our part of the world that has been hit hard by acts of terrorism believed to be the consequence of general intolerance and parochial attitudes.