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Master of ghazal, Pankaj Udhas, leaves gems for future generations

His soothing voice and emotive renditions were part of the golden era of ghazals.
Last Updated 26 February 2024, 13:26 IST

Mumbai: Ghazal maestro Pankaj Udhas — who mesmerised generations with renditions like Chitthi Aayee Hai, Thodi Thodi Piya Karo, Jiyen To Jiyen Kaise, Chandi Jaisa Rang Hai Tera, Na Kajre Ki Dhar and Aaj Fir Tum Pe — passed away in Mumbai on Monday after prolonged illness.

The Padma Shri recipient’s soulful music touched the hearts of people - as he took ghazal to the hearts of commoners.

His soothing voice and emotive renditions were part of the golden era of ghazals.

The Chitthi Aayee Hai song in 1986 film Naam, put Udhas to the limelight - and the song still touches the hearts of Indian immigrants. While the Mahesh Bhatt-directed film in which Laxmikant-Pyarelal gave the music, resurrected the career of Sanjay Dutt, the film also featured his brother-in-law Kumar Gaurav. In fact, Kumar Gaurav’s father late Rajendra Kumar financed the film and invited his friend Raj Kapoor for a private session during which the showman is said to have remarked - “…you have become immortal”.

The film had Udhas as an on-screen performer, for which he was reluctant initially.

Udhas was 72.

He is survived by wife Farida Udhas and daughters Nayaab and Reva.

“With a very heavy heart, we are saddened to inform you of the sad demise of PadmaShri Pankaj Udhas on February 26, 2024, due to a prolonged illness,” the Udhas family said in a brief statement on Instagram.

The Udhas family hails from Rajkot in Gujarat and Udhas’ brothers Nirmal and Manhar, too are singers.

Born on May 17, 1951 in Jetpur, to a family of zamindars, he completed his graduation from St Xavier's College in Mumbai.

Udhas was trained under the tutelage of Navrang Nagpurkar, a singer from the Gwalior Gharana. His love for ghazals prompted him to learn Urdu.

In the backdrop of the Sino-Indian War, as a child he sung Lata Mangeshkar's song Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon, on stage and was applauded for the performance.

In the seventies, he started singing for All India Radio, later albums for Doordarshan.

He started his career with a release of a ghazal album titled Aahat in 1980 and subsequently recorded many hits like Mukarar in 1981, Tarrannum in 1982, Mehfil in 1983, Pankaj Udhas Live at Royal Albert Hall in 1984, Nayaab in 1985 and Aafreen in 1986.

After his success as a ghazal singer, he was invited to appear and sing for a film by Naam.

In 1990, he sang the melodious duet Mahiya Teri Kasam with Lata Mangeshkar for Ghayal.

The on-screen rendition of Jeeye To Jeeye Kaise in 1991 hit Saajan, the romantic triangular involving Sanjay Dutt, Salman Khan and Madhuri Dixit Nene is another gem.

In 1994, Udhas sang the notable song, Na Kajre Ki Dhar, from the film Mohra along with Sadhana Sargam.

The Thodi Thodi Piya Karo, Aahista Kijiye Baatein, Niklo Na Benaqab and Chandi Jaisa Rang Hai Tera are still part of melodious evenings.

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(Published 26 February 2024, 13:26 IST)

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