In the diverse land of jazz, tabla, violins, beer pubs, quaint cafés, there exists a rock and roll band who go by the name of “Parikrama“. They were born in the 90’s, the time that was remembered as when bands were thought to be “a group of people who play at marriages,” recalls Subir Malik, Parikrama’s Keyboard-man. Much like their homeland, they bring about a distinctive sound of a “blues-based Rock and Roll, fused with violin and tabla,” according to their lead Guitarist, Saurabh Chaudhry. Still managing to rock even 25 years after, their lives pretty much center around creating and playing new tunes, so as to carry on the legacy of introducing rock and roll to India. Besides, you know you have done something huge when the Rolling Stone (India) calls you as the “most hard working band in India”.

rolling stones parikrama
“India’s Most Hard Working Band” by Rolling Stone (Credits: Jigme on Twitter and Rolling Stone India)

But what were their thoughts on gaining this coveted title? “I actually didn’t know the intention of Rolling Stone”, says Subir Malik. “After working for 25 years, we have to find ways to still stay relevant, to be still in demand. There have so many bands emerging in the Rock industry in India. It is very hard to not be labelled as ‘just one of them.”

Looking back 25 years ago when the band was starting out and compare it to now, the music scene in India has been anything but dull. Saurabh owes the increase in the overall quality of music to the new technology, new instruments, and the cool new gadgets that are available ever so easily nowadays. “The whole world has changed. Look at Nokia! So, if humans are changing, stuff on TV keeps on changing, then why shouldn’t music? I guess the reason why Parikrama is still so popular, is because we have always tried our best to work and change with time.” The band knows that as they, their music, has grown up, so have their audiences. “They accept and expect originality”, states Subir.

In the age of finding all the sounds of the instruments in your laptop, making music has gotten much easier. But Nitin Malik (the man behind the voice of Parikrama), believes that the people still listen to music that can get anyone on their feet, or make them feel a thousand feelings. “Even though music can be easily created, it still needs to be different to be famous,” he states.

Parikrama rocking out! (Courtesy: Parikrama on Facebook)

After seeing the same old faces for months after months, touring and traveling with them, being face to face with impossible gig-scenes, you would expect some cat-fights to ensure from time to time right? “Not really,” Saurabh responded, “see, during our concert time, we are more professional than post concert. After concerts, you would most probably see us catching up just as any group of friends would do. Because we need friendship with professionalism to achieve what we did.” So there you have it folks, no rock-band controversial scene here. Just a bunch of guys doing what they love and sharing the journey together.

After performing in thousands of gigs in the most happening places around the world, you would probably not be able to remember the amusing anecdotes, the crazy experiences, and the unusual people right? That’s not what Nitin, Subir, and Saurabh will tell you. Each one of them had their own special memory associated with that one memorable place. But don’t think it was right on top of their head!

Saurabh reminisced about that one gig at the prestigious John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington D.C), that took place on March 2011. They were helping to celebrate 50 years of the performing arts center coming into power. Parikrama played at the Millennium stage and was a part of “Maximum India”, a renowned ceremony for arts and culture of India.

For Subir, it was the annual musical festival called “Music in the Hills”. Where they rocked out at the Khimsar Fort, in the middle of sand dunes of Kasauli, near Jodhpur, Rajasthan, in 2011. Among the many other famous acts were Mohit Chauhan, Valentine Shipley, and Advaita. One festival where they haven’t actually performed, but still grabbed Subir’s attention because of its brilliant planning even after the lack of funding, was the Ragasthan Festival that took place in the Khuri dunes of Rajasthan.

But the one that all of them could agree was one heck of an unforgettable gig, was traveling and opening the Main stage for Iron Maiden, at the Download Festival of 2007.  It was the first time any Indian Rock act had ever performed at a major music festival outside of India.  

Watching Parikrama in action, the crowd goes wild! (Credit: Parikrama on Facebook)

Meanwhile, in what little free time they can manage to get, the members of one of the leading rock and roll bands of India love to travel, read, and Facebook.”I enjoy sharing interesting political articles on my Facebook. Something that revs up a conversation. Other than that, in the time that I am not practicing or making new music, I usually read for around 5 hours, or even try my hand in photography,” said Nitin Malik.

“See, I manage lots of bands besides Parikrama. Infact, the entire PR of Parikrama was done by me,” remarks Subir. “Other than that, I am a hillperson. I love to travel, collect a lot of music, specifically LPs.” His most treasurable LPs include an autographed AC/DC’s Back in Black,  and Pink Floyd’s signed records of Atom Heart Mother, Obscured By Clouds and The Wall. But that’s not all! He is also a proud owner of Jim Morrison’s handwritten lyrics of Light My Fire (1966).

Subir with just some of his awesome LP collection (Credit: DNA India)

For Subir, his most favorite place to stay in India, are exotic hill stations. He stayed in a homestay for his 1995 visit to Shillong. “It was a small house in early 1900’s”, he said. Other places like Dharamshala, Mcleodganj (where they had the extraordinary experience of meeting the Dalai Lama). The more internationally-loved spots were: Vietnam, Laos, Muscat, Oman, Cambodia, Africa, UK, U.S, and many more!

Whereas Nitin’s memorable homestay in Jakarta, Indonesia, was one to remember for a lifetime. “There were tons of other people living with me, and the food cooked was purely Indonesian. Needless to say, I was hungry a lot of times,” he recalls.

young parikrama
Walk down memory lane: Performing their first original, “Xerox” @ IIT Kanpur on October 1991 (Credit: Parikrama on Facebook)

Finally, we pitched the whole idea behind Rightstay (which offers unique home-stay experiences, in the most affordable prices) to the guys (not for annoying promotional purposes, we swear!) Though it depends on people to people, Subir predicted, “I definitely think it is here to stay, and will only grow in magnitude. People are more adventurous, more accepting to things, and it will only grow in multiple folds in the coming years.”

By Nina Sharma