You can make anything by writing – CS Lewis
Twenty years on, they are still doing what they do best, head banging! Society catch up with Parikrama India’s one of the oldest rock band.
Parikrama are the first Indian rock band ever performed at a major music festival outside of India, when they opened the main stage at Download Festival in UK for Iron Maiden in 2007. Initially it was young boys coming together just to have some fun. They planned four months but they got stuck together for twenty years and still going very strong.
So the date was fixed to meet the Delhi based six member rock metal band at the band manager Subhir Malik’s house in Saink farm. I was waiting at the door, a Gypsy (jeep) with full blast music stops near the gate and that’s how the drummer Srijan Mahajan gave his entry. Nitin Malik the lead vocalist came out to lead us in. Just as expected, the main room was full of music equipments and luggage. As we took our seats Subhir also joined us, looking fresh after a shower. He informed us that Sonam Sherpa the lead guitarist is on his way and Chitan Kalra the bassist is not coming.
“It just started with an idea to have some fun. We were not even bothered to compose our own song but just sing those which we grew up listening,” says the tall guy Nitin. “It was in 17 June 1991 at Father Agnes School, Delhi. To our surprise the very first song clicks with the audience. It was proper key board intro and then Jump by Van Halen,” adds Subhir with a big smile.
They have interesting story over their band name. “My family used to subscribe Osho Times those days. On last page they have a section call Vishwa Parikrama. It appealed to me, latter when I told the others they were also okay with it. Obviously at that age you are driven more by testosterone then intellects. I guess credit goes to Osho in a way,” says Nitin scratching his shaved head like a young kid with excitement.
In country like India where youth is crazy over Bollywood songs, it must be pretty hard for the rock metal band to exist. Srijan (24) the youngest of the band says, “I don’t know what it was like with them initially,” looking at the seniors, “but now things are changing. If we see last five years, many bands have come up. If you look around there are two-three gigs happening every week on new music.” From there Subhir (41) the eldest carries on, “we get same appreciation here and abroad. Like when we sing Vapourise and when violin solo comes in, there ought to be clapping from crowd. Today I can say that intellect of India in terms of music is same as par as anywhere else in the world.” Nitin adds a very interesting point, “this film Shaitan by Anurag Kayshap has a sound track by Bhayanak maut, which is a death metal song. So it just saw how much thing have changed. “
With the mention of Bollywood, Subhir says, “People said that we piggy bank on Saif Ali Khan. But honestly, it was not our concept. A private company asked whether we want to jam with him and then we said okay why not. On that, around 25000 turn up for the concert, out of which most of them had never heard of rock music. Why don’t people understand that it is doing good for the music industry. Ultimately it is coming back to us. Srijan adds to that, “no matter what, at the end of the day we had a good time jamming with Saif.” From the behind Nitin candidly, “I think it’s a double bonanza for the crowd to see Bollywood star with one of the India’s oldest band. It helped me also, for a change everyone was looking at him and I can do whatever I want.”
There is some noise outside, just to find Saurabh Chaudary another member who plays guitar. We continued with our chat. “Saif is a genuine rock lover and we discover that he knew a lot about rock music.” But what do they say about that he was just playing basic guitar chords while performing. “What else to you expect for him? I can’t just go and act in a movie from the day one. But I must say his rhythm playing is excellent,” says Subhir the manager of the band.
One fact that makes their fans wonder is when are they coming out with an album? Subhir tries to make a point, “In 1995 we launch our web site and by ’97 when internet becomes faster we released our song for free download. In those days even if we come out with CD, how much we could have sold? So we decide to give them for free and when people like them, they will invite us to perform. Then we will earn money out of it. There are enough of our songs on the internet for around 7-8 albums. One can just download and make an album with songs of their choice. And today this is the trend in the music world. But now we are planning for a physical album, as people want to remember us.”
Talking about the fan and the crowds, “it is always great to perform in north-east states, they really know there music. For instance in Shillong (Meghalaya), it was raining outside and temperature was five degree, 5000 people and nobody moved until we finished,” says Srijan excitedly. And then their experience as a fan themselves, when they opened for the Iron Maiden in Bangalore. At last Saurabh spoke out something, “It was a phenomenal experience. They are such a big band but they have no such air. When they are on stage they sound like song is played in CD.” Then comes in Nitin, “for half a song we didn’t realize that they were standing at the wings of the stage. There was a short firang guy but I kept on singing, then I realize it was Bruce Dickinson. It was really encouraging to see legends coming out from their green room and watch us play.” It was from here Iron Maiden was so impressed that they gave them opportunity to perform in Download festival.
Still there was no sign of Sonam, the guitar man. As one of the oldest band in India do they see any band or group to carry on the legacy? “Well there are many new bands coming up and they are really good. like Circus, Pentagram, Thermal and Quarter, Mother Jane, Soul Mate, Half Step Down, Cyanide, Tough on Tobacco and many more. I was judging in MTV Rock On and this band Divine Connection they were superb. They surprise Raghu Ram, other judge, and me,” says Subhir making his long hairs.
Looking back to the past from where they started, “there are lots of bands we look up to, Rock Machine, AC/DC, Led Zapplin, Pink Floyd, John Lord and all. Ray Minzarik they are the one who inspire me to pick up hammer organ, I will never forget them. No matter how big you have become but you should not forget how you began. My entry to rock music was because of Van Halen the album 1984 that was the first rock album I heard in the school,” Subhir with smile of contentment. So when are they going to stop? “No retirement plans right now! You will have to come back on our 30th birthday.” Then we said adieu with a hope that Sonam and Chitan will be there next time.
(Published in Society Dec ’11, Page No.78 & Mandate May ’12, Page No. 67)