Pankaj Udhas, Gulzar join hands for album

Pankaj Udhas, Gulzar join hands for album

Pankaj Udhas

Ghazal maestro and Padmashree recipient Pankaj Udhas needs no introduction. The Gujarat-born musician has crooned soulful numbers for 38 years now and has
enthralled audiences around the globe.

He will be in the city tomorrow with the Panache Media touring IP, ‘Ek Ehsaas’, which has toured Mumbai, Pune and New Delhi amongst other cities.

The event will also see the Bengaluru-launch of his album, ‘Nayaab Lamhe: Timeless moments’, in which he has joined hands with poet and lyricist Gulzar for the first time. Rajitha Menon finds out more...

How do you ensure that your music reaches the audience of today?

When I started my career back in 1980, this was my total focus. I always wanted to take this form of music across to a larger audience across the world. From my first album, I have been working to ensure that my music is acceptable and hummable and I think I have succeeded to a great extent.

For example, I have just returned from a tour of Australia and even there, I was surprised to see that almost half of the audience at most of the venues was in the age group of 30-35 years. 

Are fewer youngsters listening to ghazals today?

From the time we started listening to music, Bollywood music has always dominated the scene.

But as an alternative, ghazals provide complete music pleasure, even today — it gives you melody, poetry and a different kind of singing. That is why ghazals are still very popular today. 

When I travel, a lot of youngsters at airports and other places come to take selfies with me. Then they show me their playlists and they will have atleast 10 of my songs in that playlist. So, contrary to popular perception, the youth is listening to this kind of music.

Any favourite ragas?

In the last 38 years, I have worked on various ragas. But I have my own personal favourites, one of them being raga Bhairavi. In my more than 50 albums, I have used quite a bit of Bhairavi. My second favourite raga is Yaman Kalyan. 

Artistes, both in India and Pakistan, who inspire you?

From my childhood, I was always influenced by Begum Akhtar; she was my idol. From Pakistan, Mehdi Hassan has been my favourite.

A song of yours with which you have a special memory?

I have sung a fair share of Bollywood songs and one of them, ‘Chitthi aayi hai’, remains very close to my heart. It was released in 1986 but even after all these years, the song remains as fresh as ever. There are many memories attached to this song. The first ever time I sung this song was in Madison Square Garden with over 4,600 people in attendance. After I finished the song, there was complete silence for a couple of seconds. After that, the entire audience rose up and applauded for me. 

What music do you listen to in your spare time?

In my opinion, a musician must listen to all kinds of music. I listen to all genres but my favourite remains Indian classical music. 

Any particular artiste from the current generation?

I like Rashid Khan and Kaushiki Chakraborty.

You have a China tour coming up. What are your expectations from the same?

Yes, I will be the first ghazal player to perform in China. I will perform in Shanghai, Yiwu and Guangzhou. I am quite excited since I have never performed in mainland China before, though I have performed in Hong Kong once.