Akhand Bharat: Music bottled within borders

Multiculturalism and inclusiveness have guided the tone of Coke Studio Pakistan, drawing influence from various schools of music across the subcontinent like Hindustani Classical, Sufi, Qawwali, All Kinds of People, Bhangra, rock, pop and more. The myriad of musical styles broke boundaries as the program grew in popularity every year, making it an eagerly awaited annual event for listeners on both sides.

A random click on the Coke Studio Pakistan YouTube channel can be a bewildering experience with staggering millions of views and endless comments of love and appreciation from this side of the border. We also notice the red heart icons that dot the dialog boxes below the main window.

The adulation isn’t reserved for a Rahat Fateh Ali Khan or an Abida Parveen or the newer Ali Sethi, lesser-known singers from Pakistan also seem to be receiving a similar ovation – a definite indication of the power of music that cuts across borders.

Meanwhile, India established its own Coke Studio India in 2011. It too had its fair share of popularity with the best music programming, but had been unable to create the kind of fandom that its namesake in Pakistan did. built.

But even when there was no internet, no views matter, no YouTube or Spotify and everything was analogue, in 19th century India that stretches from Afghanistan to the Deccan, music flourished. and moved people from Lahore in the Punjab to the South, from Dhaka in the East to Gujarat in the West; The music was then supported by the princely states and produced a butterball of melody and soul food.

Multilingual music has found its moorings in Sufi poetry, Hindu bhakti poetry and folk traditions. Everyone loved music, everyone had their genre, no matter who they were – a Badshah, a king, a Sufi or an ordinary man.

Jumping to the first war of independence in 1857, then finally to the 1940s when royal patrons faded and music turned into the “only entertainment” entering the fold of radio and cinema. Music needed to be reshaped as the educated middle class began to appreciate it. The rise of nationalism meant more “Indianness” (read more Hinduism) because by then the process of “othering” Muslims was underway.