Srinagar: Pakistan’s famous Coke Studio is all set to feature a song in Kashmiri language. The song, “Ha Gulo Tohi Ma Sa Wuchwan Yaar Meon”, written by Kashmir’s famous poet, the late Ghulam Ahmad Mehjoor, will be performed by Muzaffarabad-based Kashmiri artiste Muhammad Altaf Mir.
Mir has been associated with Radio Pakistan for the past several years as a broadcaster.
On July 3, Coke Studio kicked off their new series, Coke Studio Explorer, under new producers Zohaib Kazi and Ali Hamza. A pre-cursor to the musical platform’s 11th season, which premiers in August, Coke Studio Explorer is an adventure-meets-music-meets-discovery journey that takes viewers across Pakistan. The five-part series is accompanied by five original songs.
Mir leads the Kashmiri band “Qasmir”. Mir will lend his voice to the song, Ghulam Muhammad Dar will play the Sarangi, the traditional Tumbaknari will be played by Saifuddin Shah, and the Garha will be played by Manzoor Ahmad Khan.
Coke Studio Explorer will feature five sets of musicians this year, each from a different region, Zohaib Qazi and Ali Hamza told a Pakistan-based newspaper. The first performance is by a duo of Kalash girls, Ariana and Amrina, from Chitral district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. They sing native folk songs but have been exposed to and appreciate popular international music.
“Then, we have Vishnu and Shamu Bai, two musicians from Dewan Lal Chand in Sindh, who sing devotional songs known as bhajans. They learnt them from their father. Their singing is unique and very powerful,” Ali Hamza said.
“Qasmir, a band of four musicians from Kashmir, performs surreal songs dealing with love, beauty and harmony. A lot of people talk about their love for Kashmir and its cause but few have heard the language of the region. The programme will change that in its own small way. We have tried to capture the true essence of the language by recording the poetry of famed Kashmiri poet Peerzada Ghulam Ahmad Mahjoor. We are confident that people will love the sound of the Kashmiri song,” Ali Hamza said.
Many Kashmiris said they were eagerly waiting for the song. “Being culturally aligned to Pakistan, we also align with the undercurrents of their music, which is very difficult to do with Indian art,” a music enthusiast here said.
Another performer is the Pakistani-Canadian, Mishal Khawaja, whom Coke Studio found on Instagram. “She has a unique, refreshing take on urban music and sings with a lot of passion. Her act is likely to win a lot of praise and accolades,” the producers said.
Speaking on the selection of musicians for Coke Studio Explorer, the duo said that they established certain criteria before embarking on the search for musicians. “The musicians had to be relatively unknown. They had to represent a unique aspect of the culture, history and spirit of Pakistan. And, they had to be talented. The selections were made in the field – in a natural, freewheeling and largely unrestrained manner – using the criteria that had been established in the beginning,” they said.
“The search for musicians was both extensive and expansive. It covered the remote mountains of Kalash, the scenic valley of Muzaffarabad, the vast landscape of Baluchistan, and the deserts of Sindh, not to mention the infinite virtual terrain of the internet. A lot of time, effort and energy went into the search, which was, fortunately, both productive and rewarding. We are very pleased with the results,” they said.
Hamza and Kazi were all praise for Kashmir. They said that they loved meeting people from remote areas of Pakistan and hearing their stories. “Visiting Kashmir and experiencing the unique beauty of the region and its people was a genuine pleasure,” they said.