Coke Studio Explorer celebrates the spirit of Sindh with second episode
The first time Shamu Bai fell on my radar, it was through Saif Samejo’s Lahooti Live Sessions. I remember being mesmerized by her voice. After that, I remember her appearance on Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s virtual reality documentary series, Look But With Love, in an episode that also featured Samejo.
Thus, her appearance on a platform like Coke Studio was long overdue. But whether she makes the cross-over to the main show, as is the case with some artists featured on Coke Studio Explorer, or not, just the act of telling her story to the country and beyond with this module holds merit. And mercifully, both co-producers Ali Hamza and Zohaib Kazi, solidify that effort stand out by going to her rather than having her came to them.
In the BTS footage, we learn that Sindh, the land of beautiful fields, of saints and wanderers and shaded trees, is reflective in the voice of Shamu Bai and Vishnu. With that realization, the producers record not just Shamu Bai and Vishnu but their surroundings. As Kazi notes in the BTS, “we’re going to record her, we’re surrounded by buffaloes and cows and children and this is going to be a massive challenge,” before Hamza adds, “Their music is their greatest treasure.”
We learn that Vishnu, who plays dholak with Shamu Bai, according to the producers, has a beautiful voice, it has sway and as Hamza rightly notes, it moves you from within. He is at 14, the youngest artist to perform on Coke Studio.
Moving to the actual episode, the song ‘Faqeera’ is an ode to the land of Sindh and to the dervishes and wanderers of the soil. With a light layer of electronic beats, it’s a modern song that at heart celebrates Sindhi folk. The video of the song encapsulates the entire journey that has gone into the making of ‘Faqeera’, from the arrival of the producers to their interaction with the artists and the village life, the children around to setting up the equipment to finding serenity in the sacred land, it’s all there. Shamu Bai also plays the harmonium during this song.
Coke Studio Explorer, a new module and a prequel to Coke Studio 11, with this second episode celebrates not just the land of wanderers and saints but highlights the need to embrace diversity and in a climate of repulsion perpetrated by conservative forces and where being a cynic is easy, the audacity of hope exemplified in and by ‘Faqeera’ must not be taken for granted.