A new dream

Anjali Jhangiani
Monday, 2 September 2019

Subir Malik of pioneering Indian rock band Parikrama, talks about their latest video of Tears of the Wizard, a tribute to Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings franchise, launched on Vh1 India, and how they are changing their ways to connect with younger audiences

Arguably the most popular Indian rock band, and definitely among the most sustainable ones through the years, Parikrama has certainly stood the test of time. The band that has managed to stick around and stay relevant on the ever-changing music scene since 1991, comprises Nitin Malik, Sonam Sherpa, Saurabh Chaudhry, Gaurav Balani, Subir Malik and Srijan Mahajan. They recently launched their music video Tears of the Wizard on Vh1 India and their YouTube channel.

Don’t go by the title — it’s not a sad song. The track is actually the band’s tribute to Gandalf, the wizard in The Lord of the Rings franchise. “When the first movie came out, Nitin (who is a bigger fan than the rest of us) wrote Am I Dreaming. Tears of the Wizard was written when the second movie in the trilogy came out. The song is about our love for Gandalf,” says Subir Malik. So while the song has been performed by the band during their 45-day tour in the UK with Iron Maiden, after they opened for the heavy metal giants in Bengaluru in 2007, and subsequently at many other concerts, they had not recorded the song before now.  

The sights and sounds
The video is shot in the beautiful town of Mechuka, Arunachal Pradesh. “We went there three years ago to perform at a concert, but when we landed and saw the beauty of the land, we knew this is where we want to make the video. It was like a different world, a magical land, with a river flowing with a thick blanket of fog till about 9-10 in the morning and when it clears out, you can see the bright blue sky above. There was another river with emerald green water, and grasslands that were brown. The picturesque surroundings were best suited for this song that was inspired by fantasy,” says he. 

Malik shares that the Ministry of Tourism sponsored the video from scratch. “When we informed them about our plans to make this video, they decided to sponsor it because it will work for the benefit of the state. The video took a lot of time because we wanted to make it big and perfect as this is our first release after our debut video But It Rained which was shot 21 years ago,” says he. 

Though there are videos of their songs available online, like the one with Dualist Inquiry or I Am Dreaming which was shot for MTV Rock On, But It Rained and now Tears of the Wizard are the only two videos commissioned by the band. 

Audio to video
Since the band has always been about performing their songs live, why do they feel the need to make videos now? “With time, now we are also changing. Today, the younger kids do not know But It Rained, but they will listen to Tears of the Wizard now. We are now recording our songs, making new videos, stuff like that. Today’s generation needs to see visual content too, that is why we are changing too,” says he. 

But the band has always been known to be ahead of its time. “If you take a look at our history, you will find that we were the first ones to launch a song online back in 1995. We paid 35,000 bucks in 1997 to get our website made. Then I guess we got left behind. Five years ago we had a plan but couldn’t execute it. We had to get out of the habit of exclusively performing at live concerts and not making time for recording our songs or shooting videos,” he says, adding, “Things are changing now. Even if we’re not those people who go to a restaurant and click 20 photos to post online before actually eating the food, we are getting the hang of social media, YouTube and stuff. Somebody had started a YouTube channel for Parikrama six years ago, and we had no clue about it. We could not open one ourselves because it already existed. It took two months of corresponding with them back and forth before we got the control of our YouTube channel. We plan on releasing more content soon.”

Sticking together
While most bands come and go, Parikrama has been a prominent name in the industry for decades. The secret for them going strong is a mutual agreement not to depend on their music for their livelihood. “It’s probably the first thing we made clear in 1991. We agreed that we will never make Parikrama as our source of earning, it will always remain a hobby for all the members. If we had taken this as our primary profession, we would have been tempted to do Bollywood and ended up doing numbers like Sheila Ki Jawani and Kajra Re. We only play music that we relate to, so we started with covers of Led Zepplin and Deep Purple and went on to write our own songs. We had to look outside the band to be financially secure,” says Malik, adding, “The next step is to do albums. The feel, the zeal, for Parikrama is the same that was there on day one. Now, specially when there are less of us left, we are more driven to keep the flavour of rock and roll alive.”

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