Born and raised in Bangalore, Vikram completed his schooling and thereafter acquired a Bachelors degree in Engineering and went on to obtain an MBA in Finance in Mumbai.
Vikram's first book, Splendours of Royal Mysore: The Untold Story of the Wodeyars has been widely acclaimed. His second book “My Name is Gauhar Jaan!” – The Life and Times of a Musician is the biography of Gauhar Jaan, India's first classical musician to record on the gramophone. The book has been hailed by several luminaries in India and abroad. The book won the prestigious ARSC (Association of Recorded Sound Collections) International Award for Excellence in Historical Research. Vikram's third book Voice of the Veena: S Balachander – A Biography narrates the story of eminent Veena maestro late Padmabhushan Dr. S Balachander. Vikram has been a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin, Germany where he studied the early gramophone recordings of Indian music.
It has been a unique initiative to keep the retro music alive simply because it has a queer and enticing flavour of the Bharatiya music nuances. More importantly, the heritage of music is always an inspiration for the generations to come to learn from it and to go beyond. Vikram’s initiative to set up “ Archives of Music” would surely go a long way as a prize achievement
Laying the foundation
Vikram recalls that while researching on his book on Gauhar Jaan, India’s first artist to record on the gramophone in 1902, he was offered a visiting Fellowship at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin. He visited all the sound archives across Europe and was astounded to see that not only did they have a national repository of vintage recordings of their country, but also had vast holdings of Indian voices. It embarrassed him as a student of history and music, and more so as an Indian. On his return Vikram made an elaborate proposal to the UPA Government to establish a national sound archive and also offered his expertise and time for it. However the proposal fell on deaf ears and the project file kept being shunted from one department to another. But not the one to give up, he decided to establish a public charitable Trust and for this help manifested itself in the form of philanthropist TV Mohandas Pai, formerly with Infosys and currently the Chairman of the Manipal Global Education group. Pai was moved by the fact that valuable cultural inheritances of our country in the form of gramophone recordings are lying rotting in flea markets, chor bazars, and raddi shops across India. He decided to support Vikram and thus was born the “Archive of Indian Music” (AIM) in November 2011.
Hurrah for Heritage
In 2017, AIM in association with internationally renowned Grammy Award winning composer-musician Mr. Ricky Kej and Mr. Rajib Sarma of Assam, undertook extensive field-recordings of the Baul Tradition of West Bengal. In the year 2005, the Bauls and the Baul Tradition has been enlisted in the UNESCO’S “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”. However, both at the levels of the Central Government and the West Bengal State Government, there has been very little or no documentation at all of this important mystical tradition of India. Through this project, AIM undertook a documentation of the Baul Akhaaras, villages, ashrams etc. in Birbhum district such as Jaidev Kenduli, Villamangal, Godar Ashram (Bakreswar), Darbesh Ashram (Dubrajpur), Datapirer Ashram (Dubrajpur), Fullara (Labhpur), Gopalnagar, Data Baba Mazar (Patharchapuri) and other sites. Personal interviews with the mystic Bauls and with groups; and documentation of performances were conducted. In addition, the monuments, terracotta temples and Shaktipeethas in the district were also documented in order to locate the socio-cultural environment from where the Baul tradition emerges. Temples over the mound of Boru Chandidas, cluster of temples surrounding The Bishalakshmi Temple (Basuli Temple), Char Chala temple complexes of Nanoor, Durga Dalan, Jora Shiva Aatchala temples etc. were included as part of this exercise. Finally, the fieldwork including a documentation of the local leather handicraft, pottery, terracotta and other items closely connected with the culture & tradition at Bhuvandanga, Alcha, Basundhara, Amar Kutir etc. were also done.