Inside the Making of Parikrama’s First Music Video in 20 Years, ‘Tears of the Wizard’
The rock veterans’ keyboardist Subir Malik on realizing why the band needs more recorded material out
Subir Malik is known to be a straight-talker. No matter how often Parikrama may get written off as a band for oldies, the New Delhi rock veterans’ keyboardist knows that they can change that in a flash. “When people say, ‘Rock is dead’, I’d say, ‘Not till we are alive.’”
But it’s taken a while for Parikrama to make the right, era-specific move and put out studio material. After all, their new music video and single “Tears of the Wizard” comes after more than two decades, following 1996’s Indian rock anthem “But It Rained.” Malik says, “Overall, we have a 100 songs. But we’ve never recorded a song. After ‘But It Rained,’ I don’t remember going into the studio to record a song.”
Even the Lord of the Rings inspired “Tears of the Wizard,” in all its hard rock intensity, was written and performed starting in 2007, when Parikrama supported British heavy metal legends Iron Maiden’s India run of shows. “The process of creating music never stopped. The process of going to the studio, making the effort to shoot your video and release it – that probably has started again after 21 years,” Malik says.
For a band that’s well established on the touring circuit and has 28 years in the game, they still took their time plotting out the release of “Tears of the Wizard.” They started in 2017, when the band landed in the verdant village of Mechuka in Arunachal Pradesh for the eponymous Mechuka Adventure Festival in November. Malik says, “I saw this place and the moment I landed, I said to the band, ‘Listen, I want to shoot the video here.’ Then later at night, when I was about 15 beers down, I got this wise idea – I thought of it, came back to Delhi and wrote an email to one of my friends there who knew the ministry.”
Turns out with the help of the Arunachal Pradesh government, the music video for “Tears of the Wizard” became the first state-enabled undertaking of this kind for an English language Indian rock band. “The day of the release, the chief minister tweeted about the video and he said that the government will encourage more filmmakers and musicians to come,” Malik says, the pride in his voice evident.
With help from filmmaker Sujit Jha and producer Sanjiv Monga (who wrote a detached but eerie storyline about the band’s van breaking down), the video was shot in freezing temperatures. The band was dressed in slick black and Malik says they had plenty of layers on. He adds with a laugh, “I didn’t bathe for six or seven days. Other people bathed, but I didn’t.” To add to it, Malik was the only one with a scene that involved walking barefoot into the water for one shot, where he uncovers a sign buried in the water. “That shot is for three or four seconds, but I had to do at least 20 takes. I was cool with it, but my foot got so frozen and swollen that they had to put my feet on the director’s chair and light a fire to get the feeling back,” he says.
With its wide-open shots of landscapes, mountains and rivers, one could in a way compare the visual language of “Tears of the Wizard” to “But It Rained” as well, but Malik says it’s the first time he’s ever thought about it. Perhaps the one thing that’s common is Parikrama’s feat to shoot “But It Rained” in Spiti Valley a few years before any other filmmaker took their cameras there (and even before it became a tourist spot) and now visiting Mechuka – where they landed via a helicopter from Guwahati – to shoot in the pristine town for “Tears of the Wizard.”
Now that the video is out there and Parikrama actually has an official, stand-alone single up on streaming platforms, Malik is also excited about the stats and analysis that comes with releasing music. He reels off the number of shares, comments and views across platforms for “Tears of the Wizard” and how their Instagram account is doing with visible excitement.
Surprisingly, this is not a one-off experiment, but the start of an earnest effort from Parikrama to release more music. Malik says they’re heading into recording sessions. “We’ve already got the studio booked in the next two weeks to record the next song we’re doing. We have five to six songs in the pipeline,” he says, referring to tracks like “Life’s Uncertain,” “Song in E” and more. Malik adds, “In my mind, I’m already thinking about the next video. I want to do that in the next couple of months.”