Amit Saigal. I've been asked to write so many tributes, and I've had to refuse each time, because how does one say what needs saying? How does one encapsulate all you did? How does one enumerate all you did and wanted to do? It's not possible for a few words or paragraphs to even get close.
There are little stories that made big differences. Like the time Pentagram were invited to headline the Sundance Festival in Estonia. We needed a draft to be given to the consulate in Delhi, so we could get visas. There was no way we coulda done it from Bombay, because the time was too short, and there were holidays in between or some such junk. You, without hesitation or a second thought, pulled the money outta your own account, had the draft made and sent, and we became the first Indian band to headline a festival abroad.
Yet, there were all those times we didn't necessarily agree with one another. Whether it was about Pentagram playing at GIR, or any of your other gigs. The funny thing is, the draft you made for us, never came back to haunt us as a part of any of our discussions or disagreements. It was never held to our heads. It was also never held against us, that we couldn't do some of your gigs. We stayed friends, and you remained one of the people that we always, and without question, knew we could count on.
I met you for the first time at IIT Delhi in late 1995. The Orange Street of the time, Samrat, Saibal, Neel and Bann, introduced us. I remember thinking how cool you were, and how brave it was to have started this magazine of yours.
We were just kids then. The years then passed, as they do, and things changed, as they do. So many people came into the 'scene', did their bits, and left. Went back to their family businesses or whatever. But some of us were more stubborn. A few people, like you, became the instruments that changed and defined the scene and left their marks on so many young lives and dreams.
The last time I met you, backstage at NH7 in Pune, you said you were sick of hearing my name in a Bollywood context, and we laughed so hard at where things had started, and where things have come. We spoke about how many things we've had to make happen, outta sheer force of will, to keep the 'scene' going. We spoke about people, new people, young people, who were lit with a flame similar to ours, and who would define and change the future of independent music in India. The funny thing is, Amit, I don't know how they're gonna do it without you around to make their drafts and send them off to see the world.
Photo Courtesy: Kunal Kakodkar