On the Production of CS 8’s Tajdar-e-Haram

Hasan Ansari for Express Tribune:

But it has been revealed what became the biggest hit of season 8 was in fact not produced by Strings duo Bilal Maqsood and Faisal Kapadia.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Atif revealed, “Tajdar-e-Haram was actually produced by songwriter Shiraz Uppal.” Atif had initially planned to keep the track for himself and had Shiraz arrange the music. “When Coke Studio approached me, I thought why not perform it on the show,” he added. He shared he brought Shiraz on-board to give the producer a feel of Coke Studio.

When approached for a comment, Shiraz said Atif is his long-time collaborator. “He had approached me because he wanted to do a modern version of the qawwali. We took the CD to Coke Studio where he performed the same version.” It’s interesting to note that neither was Shiraz’s name mentioned in the song credits nor did he appear in the BTS clip that showcases the song-making process.

There are two concerns here: what role did Strings play in this recording? And was Shiraz Uppal denied a credit that he deserved?

First, on Strings’ role: Recordings often start in one place, end in another. They start with one band, end with others playing on it. Collaborations work in different ways, and Coke Studio itself is testament to that. Some songs are brought in by artists and modified, others suggested to artists and worked on together, sometimes entire songs composed by the house band and a singer called in to front them. In each case the Producers of Coke Studio retain the final responsibility of tying each song together, and of tying each song to the whole theme of the season. So that Shiraz Uppal was the original producer on this version of the song before it came to Coke Studio I don’t think takes away anything from Strings. Ultimately it is likely that they were involved, if anything as commentators and curators, though the final facts here are not necessarily known. This discussion is relevant given recent news that Strings will likely lead a collection of producers on Coke Studio 9, similar to the model employed with Coke Studio @ MTV (a.k.a. Coke Studio India). All in all, I think this is not as big a deal as it seems. There is potential to burn the producers at the stake, and criticisms of the production of Seasons 7 and 8 aside, I don’t think this deserves to be one.

Second, on crediting Shiraz Uppal: Unfortunately even after this story it’s a little unclear what role each producer played. That said, with Coke Studio’s recent emphasis on crediting heavily — many videos start with text crediting the original singers and composers of the song, even video montages and thank you notes — giving some credit to Shiraz Uppal may have been warranted and a nice gesture. But this seems erroneous, not malicious (if incorrect at all). It is good that we are talking about these things, but it should only help the industry improve, not bring anyone down.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *