The list of demands by Canadian pop star Justin Bieber, who performs in Mumbai on May 10, has everyone talking about it. The 23-year old has listed things ranging from a private Rolls Royce to a convoy of luxury cars and Volvo buses. He has really got down to details, specifying a particular video game console and a washing machine among the items absolutely required for his performance.
While on the face of it, this may look like a huge international star’s pointless demands, the music industry is divided on the issue. Some feel the demands are justified; others feel they are no more than starry tantrums.
All demands directly related to performance are fine
Singer Jubin Nautiyal feels that a musician should get whatever he asks for his performance on stage, but that off-stage demands are uncalled for. “You can’t compromise with things being asked for while the artist is performing. This is extremely personal and it depends on the person — some want a different sort of lighting; some want a particular sound system. It’s all about being comfortable and that’s why it’s important. As far as off-stage demands are concerned, those are uncalled for. I mean, let’s put it this way: I’d prefer having a better sound system at the cost of having a luxury car pick me up from the airport,” he says.
Even the ‘weirdest demands’ can sometimes make sense
Singer Jasleen Royal agrees with Jubin and feels that even the “weirdest demands” make sense for live shows. “Some people are particular even about the brand of towels,” she says. “That’s not because they are throwing a tantrum or anything, but because they’re scared that they won’t get good quality towels, and that [scratchy towels] may affect their face.”
They’re more rigid when they come to India
Singer Kailash Kher, who had been the first to comment on actor Sonakshi Sinha’s unsuitability for an opening act at the Bieber concert, feels that these demands do amount to tantrums, but adds that organisers will fulfil them anyway. “They’re big stars and when they come [to India], it becomes a big deal,” says Kher. “It’s the usual practice of international artists and they get what they want. In our country, especially, organisers go out of their way to please them. It’s a standard template that [international artists] have adopted and they become even more stubborn and rigid about those demands when they perform in India.”
See it from the artist’s perspective
Veteran musician Subir Malik, keyboard player for the pioneering Delhi-based rock band Parikrama, understands the “ridiculous” demands of international musicians. While he does think that these are mere tantrums, Malik also feels that what the stars ask for are necessary for them. “Singers like Justin Bieber are big stars, and for them every little thing matters. They need to be in their comfort zone. And if any small thing goes wrong, his reputation as a live artist will take a hit. That’s why he is so particular about it,” Malik says. “I know he won’t have time for even half of the things he has asked for, but they make him feel comfortable. I’m not justifying it — I think it’s ridiculous, but one has to look from his perspective as well.”
Prevents sloppy work by organisers
Sometimes the list of demands is added to the contract, so that concert organisers don’t do a sloppy job. Amit Khilam of the renowned Delhi-based band Indian Ocean says, “Many times, the organisers are careless, and they don’t go through the contract and make lousy arrangements. On the day of the gig, they’ll tell the artist to just manage. So, in order to make the organisers go through the contract thoroughly, [major artists] add things like mineral water bottles of a particular brand only, or only brown-coloured candies. On-stage demands are very important for a live show, and an artist cannot compromise on that.”
It’s cool because ‘pop stars are pop stars’
Popular composer Anu Malik thinks that big international stars come with “big baggage”, but he’s cool with that. He adds, “Pop stars are pop stars. People, especially the youngsters, are crazy for them. I remember when Michael Jackson came to India and I was crazy about his gig. He, too, had a list of demands that were fulfilled. When the whole country is excited about such a big concert, one has to complete their list of demands. I’m glad that someone like Bieber is coming to India.”