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A Coke Studio cover of the song Ko Ko Korina has been widely panned, and is perhaps the first song from the show to get more dislikes than likes on YouTube.
New Delhi: Some of the most intense arguments among music fans revolve around their disagreements over whether a cover does justice to the original version. But seldom have renditions evoked such national derision as a Coke Studio take on Pakistani classic Ko Ko Korina has.
When popular singer Momina Mustehsan and debutant Ahad Raza Mir performed Ko Ko Korina on the 11th season of Coke Studio last month, the entire country seemed to be up in arms.
Pakistan human rights minister Shireen Mazari was among the critics, saying the cover was a “massacre of the old classic”.
If indeed poor, the Coke Studio Ko Ko Korina wouldn’t be the first bad cover, so why has this version triggered a weeks-long controversy?
A gem from a golden era
Ko Ko Korina, an upbeat song from 1966 that is widely credited as Pakistan’s first true pop song, was sung by the late legendary singer Ahmed Rushdi for the movie Armaan, which came at a time known as the golden years of Pakistani cinema.
Some trivia here: Rushdi’s first song was for an Indian movie called Ibrat in 1951. It was only in the following years that he shifted to Karachi, Pakistan, where he became famous as a singer by 1954.
Like Mukesh for Raj Kapoor and Abhijeet for Shah Rukh Khan, Rushdi emerged as the voice of Pakistan’s then heartthrob Waheed Murad, and Ko Ko Korina was one of the hits he sang for him.
In the black-and-white music video of the track, Murad is seen singing enthusiastically, along with an orchestra, about a woman on his mind. The song takes place in a bar or a saloon where a few couples can be seen romancing each other.
“Mere khayaalon pe chhayi hai ek surat matwali si (My thoughts are consumed by a face)
Naazuk si, sharmili si, masoom si, bholi-bhaali si (It’s delicate, shy and innocent)
Rehti hai voh door kahin, ata pata maloom nahi (She lives far away, don’t know where)
Ko Ko Korina, Ko Ko Korina.”
As Murad sings, the couples and the bartenders all join in for the peppy chorus about the mysterious woman.
The song proved an instant hit, and has remained one of the most popular songs of the country.
Ko Ko Korina won many awards, with the beats of the song also earning Armaan a cult status.
The song spawned several cover versions in Pakistan as well as India.
Rushdi died of a heart attack at the age of 48, in 1983, leaving behind an ouvre of over 5,000 songs. He was recognised as the “best singer of the millennium” in Pakistan.
Twenty years after his death, then president of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf awarded Rushdi the ‘Sitara-i-Imtiaz’, the country’s third-highest civilian honour.
Over the years, his legacy has repeatedly been evoked in multiple covers, one of the most recent being a rendition of Ko Ko Korina filmed on Pakistani actors Fawwad Khan and Amina Sheikh in 2013 for a remake of Armaan.
The much-criticised Coke Studio version, which has notched over three million views on YouTube, has itself kicked off a host of fresh covers.
Four days after Coke Studio released the cover, a young singer, Asfand Yar, put up his own acoustic cover of the song with the description, “My rendition of the now infamous #KoKoKorina… This is my humble attempt at bringing back… Lollywood’s golden era.”
This minute-long video is earning a positive feedback on YouTube.
But the Coke Studio video has mostly elicited criticism. While some have pointed out that this is the first time a Coke Studio rendition has received fewer likes (54,000) than dislikes (158,000) on YouTube, others have drawn a parallel with the advertisement jingle for Nirma detergent.