Why is Indian singer Shilpa Rao on Coke Studio Pakistan?

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Three days into the release of the Paar Chanaa De song as result of magical collaboration between Noori and Indian singer Shilpa Rao on Coke Studio, we have started seeing comments in online as well as offline spaces questioning how can there be an Indian singer in “Pakistani” Coke Studio.

The good thing is that the negative voices are negligible compared to the immense support and love this song has received from common people in both India and Pakistan but it doesn’t mean this shouldn’t be addressed.

I have prepared this response for such buzzkills in hopes that they will let us enjoy more such awesome collabs in future.

What is Coke Studio Pakistan anyway?

While we all are very proud for Coke Studio to have come out of Pakistan and becoming such a sensation, it never meant it is exclusively for Pakistanis and is limited to Pakistani music. In fact, it is against the spirit of Coke Studio to expect cultural limitations from it since from Rohail Hyat’s seasons, it has featured western musicians; heck, it has been a fusion of western and eastern music most of the time.

This brings us to our second point which is…

Music transcends boundaries

This phrase is such a cliche but apparently not cliched enough for buzzkills to get it through their thick heads. It simply means music in specific and art in general doesn’t recognize boundaries. Still don’t know what I mean? Well then next time think of the same while you’re dancing to the tune of or humming one of the songs in languages you don’t even speak.

It’s normal to have cross-border collaborations worldwide

If you haven’t seen British performers on American shows and vice versa, you should. In fact, a show is currently on in America and is called America’s Got Talent. 2 out of 4 of its judges are British and help decide who wins the “American” show. Imagine if we can have an Indian judge on Pakistani reality show.

What other international collaborations has Coke Studio had before?

The answer is countless. But I’m gonna give you two examples, one of them is my all time favourite by the way. The first — my all time favourite — is Amay Bhashaili Re by Alamgir and Fariha Pervez. While both lead singers are Pakistanis, the instrument players are of various European nationalities. Take a look:

The other one is Ishq Kinara in collaboration with Turkish musicians and performer Sumru Ağıryürüyen. Take a look:

And no India is not different

If you’re gonna argue India is different because of political tensions between the two countries, you’re essentially supporting Shiv Sena’s argument that kicked Pakistani artists like Ghulam Ali out of India. Let artists live freely and without politics of borders for goodness sake.

Lastly, enjoy the wonderful song or as I’d like to call it, the magic which is made when Indians and Pakistanis collaborate:

Paar Chanaa De, Shilpa Rao & Noori, Episode 4, Coke Studio Season 9

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