Coke Studio’s Season 10 is underway and has passed through its worst, Sayonee, and may be best rendition like Naina Moray.
The season has had its negatives and positives, a lot of criticism, as well as praise from the fans. But the point I want to discuss is the ‘family’ songs, which can be called examples of nepotism.
This season is more like a family studio, with four songs that have brothers, father-daughter, and father-son duos in them.
These family duos were bad, good and even excellent – no question about the talent of some of these singers e.g. Zaw Ali, daughter of Sajjad Ali and Akbar Ali, brother of Pakistan’s natural auto-tuner Javed Bashir.
But a simple question: would they have been able to perform at a platform like Coke Studio if they didn’t have these relatives?
Danyal Zafar was the first one to appear with his brother Ali Zafar, famous actor/singer of Pakistan. Having almost the same outlook, Danyal sang one song Munatzir with Momina Mustehsan in the first episode of this season – which was ‘OK’ at best.
He appeared again with his brother Ali Zafar in Julie, not as a singer but just as a guitarist, which for me, was a completely unnecessary and rather forced inclusion.This is because Coke Studio has perhaps the best house band of the country, and Danyal appeared to be there just because he is the brother of Ali Zafar. And so, my question is: why?
The second ‘family singer’ was Zaw Ali, daughter of maestro Sajjad Ali. The father-daughter duo appeared in Episode 3 and I must say she performed well. But why was she taken by Coke Studio without having given any major hit? Was it because she is the daughter of Sajjad Ali? I think yes – even though she is an excellent singer.
The third was Sanwal Esakhelvi, the son of legendary Attaullah Esakhelvi. Both appeared in Episode 5 and sang Attaullah’s number, ghazal by Ibn-e-Insha, Sab Maya Hay. I think Sanwal did well – of course no way near his father’s singing – but again, it seems that Sanwal is in Coke Studio because he is the son of a legend. He also does not have any major hit prior to his appearance in Coke Studio, and got advantage of being the son of Attaullah.
The fourth was Akbar Ali, the brother of Pakistani auto tuner Javed Bashir, appearing in the fourth episode of the season and sang Naina Moray. He also appeared in the third episode along with Qurat-ul-Ain Baloch and Arieb Azhar in Laal Meri Pat. This brother-duo sang perhaps the best number of this season so far. Almost nine years ago, Ali appeared in a reality music TV show in India, where he showed his classical singing skills. He is talented and a ‘pakka’ singer. I loved his performance; but again, the question arises: was he given the chance as brother of Javed Bashir or on his own singing ability?
This season is heavily ‘family oriented’ and almost in every episode, family members have appeared – even in the same songs. This will raise questions in minds of fans and young singers and will show that being the sibling or child of a famous artist will give you advantage over others. And this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.