More than a decade down the road and Coke Studio, about to launch into its twelfth season, has come full circle. Rumours have been afloat for a while now but we finally have confirmed news that Rohail Hyatt will be returning to the show as its producer.
It is common knowledge that Rohail was the show’s first ever producer, breathing life into it and setting benchmarks with songs that have now become timeless hits. Stepping on to the fledgling black and red studio many years ago, he had masterminded the fusion of folk with contemporary tunes, took the show onwards and upwards and changed the country’s musical landscape. In a short time, CS had become one of Pakistan’s own, looked forward to and followed with great enthusiasm.
But in its sixth season, CS’ ratings had fluctuated dramatically and Rohail had said at the time that he refused to make music solely based on commercial concerns.
A new set of producers, Faisal Kapadia and Bilal Maqsood of Strings, had come on board in the seventh season of CS and continued on till season 10 before passing the baton to Ali Hamza and Zohaib Kazmi. The latter’s tryst as producers lasted just for a single cataclysmic year, which will primarily be remembered for the controversy it stirred up courtesy a mediocre rendition of 'Ko Ko Korina'.
It was probably the massive negative publicity generated by 'Ko Ko Korina' that prompted the show’s sponsors to think carefully about who they wanted to take over the producer’s chair in the next year. CS direly needed an image makeover. It also needed to regain some of its former glory by beginning to churn out a few of the hits that had once been the basis of its popularity.
Maybe, it needed Rohail Hyatt.
It's important to note that while CS has had other producers, it was only Rohail who had managed to gain a cult following and long after he had left, social media commentators continued to remember the melodious days of yore when he was helming the show. They usually did so while bashing the more recent seasons. Also, while rumours would often float out that Rohail was working on shows for other brands, these projects never did formulate. His name continued to be associated solely with CS.
It is also a lesser known fact that while he may not have had been producing CS, Rohail has sporadically continued working with Coca-Cola in an advisory capacity on different projects. These projects may not have been Pakistani but they were music-related and Rohail has occasionally been part of talks or overseen the preliminary details of a show-in-the-making.
All these factors must naturally have played a major role in propelling Rohail into the producer’s chair for the show’s 12th season, scheduled to begin airing this August.
With Rohail Hyatt’s name in the show’s credits, ratings are likely to hike. Audiences will be tuning in not just for the love of music but also out of curiosity, wondering if some of the old CS magic will return. Of course, this puts an immense amount of pressure on the talented Mr Hyatt but then again, having once rode the crest of Pakistan’s pop culture as part of the iconic Vital Signs and later, being the backbone to CS, he is no stranger to high audience expectations.
Nevertheless, the musical arena has changed immensely from the last time Rohail Hyatt was producing CS. A number of contenders have now entered the field, vying more or less for the same audience that was once solely enamoured by CS.
Pepsi Battle Of The Bands, endeavouring to bring band culture back to Pakistan, is consistently bringing forth new talent every year and boasts an impressive coterie of celebrity judges. Nescafe Basement, also, was phenomenal last season and many had immediately compared it to CS, whose fortunes were flailing around the same time thanks to 'Ko Ko Korina'.
Catering to a fickle, critical audience, it may be difficult for CS to achieve the record-breaking ratings that were once its domain. Then again, just knowing that Rohail Hyatt is returning is exciting news. Just knowing this makes one want to wait avidly for the new season to begin. And as mentioned earlier, Rohail’s ingenious knack for creating unique, spectacular music is undeniable. Despite increased competition, Rohail may just be able to curate yet another game-changer.
Rohail Hyatt and the official sponsor of CS – Coca-Cola Pakistan - were unable to give official quotes at this point in time. They will be doing so shortly but in the meantime, Rohail’s inclusion in the upcoming season is confirmed. Let’s countdown to Coke Studio season 12!