Thirty years ago, New Delhi-based band Parikrama’s keyboardist Subir Malik just happened to discover that there was a market for artist management, but he never anticipated that it would become a business for him. Subir, the driving force behind the band that he started with his brother and lead vocalist Nitin Malik, also feels that it is one of the toughest and most thankless jobs in the world.
“I am dynamic and aggressive as a manager otherwise. But it does not really matter, you know. When an artist leaves you, they will never talk about what you did for them, but always harp on about what you did not (laughs).”
But he is equally dynamic and passionate about his music. Malik collects music memorabilia. Among his sprawling collection, he says, is one of two guitars signed by The Beatles legend John Lennon just before his assassination in December 1980. He also boasts of a Pink Floyd bass guitar signed by the British band, and also owns a handwritten lyrics sheet of Jim Morrison’s (lead singer of The Doors) ‘Light My Fire’ from 1966. Subir, who started collecting about five years ago, says, “It took me ten years to get through to such sellers. My name became a problem after the 9/11 attacks and no one would respond to my emails. After doing this continuously for a considerable amount of time, I finally got a friend in San Francisco to help me reach them. It was exhausting, but worth it.” For someone who still collects LPs (Long Play vinyl records), he rues the fact that people don’t go to stores to buy music anymore. He feels that this is a deterrant for the growth of music in India. According to him, there is no organised method in the recording industry which has kept Parikrama away from recording their songs in the studio. “The Bollywood wave is so strong that the functioning of the recording industry is skewed in India. There is no place for independent musicians. On top of that, though the independent music scene has numerous players now and a load of fresh talent, the demand for them is still very limited.”
Parikrama's keyboardist and manager Subir Malik spoke to HT about many hats he wears. (Gurminder Singh/HT)
So what has made 24-yearold Parikrama stick around in the scene for so long? The rock band formed in 1991 and has become a household name when it comes to followers of Indian rock in the country. Widely respected, the rock veterans still feature regularly on the live music scene. “As a band, we have always given our best. Be it on a small or a big stage, performing live gives us immense pleasure and we do it for ourselves, more than anything else. That just reflects in our performances. Also, as a band, I think we are all very chilled out. And with music you never know when time passes you by.”
Talking about how independent artists in India face numerous financial difficulties to do what they are passionate about, Subir says it is difficult to earn royalty in India and so performing live and organising music festivals is a more convenient, though painstaking way, to earn the little that they do, compared to such artists in the West.
Referring to the quality of music nowadays, nationally or internationally, Subir who loves his classic rock, says he doesn’t really follow new artists as such but the scenario has definitely changed in India when it comes to fresh talent. Also, thanks to various music festivals promoting independent artists, the scene has started to look up.
In Dharampur for Chandigarh’s first music festival, Subir says, “We played at the Kasauli Rhythm and Blues Festival in 2012. And it’s always a pleasure to be back here. We are very happy to be a part of this fest. Such festivals show that the region is not only about Punjabi music. There are good listeners for other kinds of music as well.”