Pankaj Udhas

Pankaj Udhas, India’s Ghazal Icon, Passes Away At 72 After Prolonged Illness | Tribute to the Legendary Singer

The legendary Indian ghazal singer Pankaj Udhas passed away on Sunday at the age of 72 after a prolonged illness. Pankaj Udhas was considered one of the most popular ghazal singers in India and was renowned for his soulful voice and melodious ghazals. His demise is a great loss for the Indian music industry.

Pankaj Udhas Early Life

He was born on May 17, 1951, in Gujarat. He started learning music at a young age under the guidance of his father and uncle, who were also musicians. He later trained in classical music under maestros like Faiyaz Wasifuddin Dagar and Ustad Abdul Rehman Khan. He began his professional music career in the late 1970s with a ghazal album titled “Aahaat”.

Rise to Fame as a Ghazal Maestro

With his debut album “Aahaat”, Pankaj Udhas gained popularity for his unique singing style and soul-stirring ghazals. In the 1980s and 1990s, he released several hit ghazal albums including “Mehfil”, “Ghazal Ka Rang” and “Avadhi Bahar” which established him as one of the biggest ghazal singers in India. Pankaj Udhas soon became synonymous with ghazal gayaki and carved a niche for himself in the Indian music scene.

Contribution to Bollywood Playback Singing

Apart from independent albums, He also lent his voice to many popular Bollywood songs. He recorded ghazals and melodious tracks for Hindi films like “Naam”, “Chandni”, “Arth”, “Bazigar” and “Dushman”. Some of his hit Bollywood numbers were “Chitthi Aayee Hai” from Naam, “Jhuki Jhuki Si Nazar” from Arth, and “Aur Aahista Kijiye Baatein” from Chandni. Pankaj Udhas brought a unique ghazal flair to Hindi film music.

Live Concerts and Performances

He was renowned for his energetic live concerts, both in India and abroad. His concerts called “Mehfils” were hugely popular among ghazal aficionados. He performed sold-out shows across the globe, regaling audiences with his renditions of ghazals, geets, folk songs and film songs. From small intimate gatherings to massive stadium concerts, Pankaj Udhas gave it his all and left audiences spellbound.

Awards and Accolades

Over his illustrious career spanning five decades, he received numerous awards and accolades. He was honoured with the prestigious Padma Shri award in 2006, recognizing his unmatched contribution to Indian music. Pankaj Udhas also received two Filmfare Awards for Best Male Playback Singer for his songs “Chitthi Aayee Hai” (Naam) and “Jhuki Jhuki Si Nazar” (Arth).

Family and Personal Life

Pankaj married Farida Udhas in 1980 and had two daughters Nayaab and Reva. When not busy with music concerts and tours, he enjoyed spending time with his family. Pankaj Udhas also dabbled in painting and poetry writing. He authored a book of poems titled “Kuchh Aazaad Ghazalen” in 1999.

Illness and Demise

He had been unwell for several years and battling health issues. He passed away on February 26, 2024, at the age of 72 in Mumbai after a prolonged illness. His funeral was held the next day with family and friends in attendance. Celebrities and fans across India mourned the demise of the ghazal legend. His death has left a void in the Indian music fraternity.

Tributes Pour in from the Music Industry

As the news of Pankaj Udhas’ demise spread, tributes started pouring in from the music community. Fellow artists, singers and musicians took to social media to express their sadness and pay homage to the maestro. Bollywood singer Sonu Nigam said “One of the most important parts of my childhood, is lost today. Shri Pankaj Udhas ji, I will miss you forever.” Music composer Lalit Pandit tweeted “We have lost a voice that was sheer magic.”

Several prominent singers also released tribute videos and performances in memory of Pankaj Udhas. The music industry came together as one to honour the life and work of the ghazal king.

Lasting Legacy and Influence on Ghazal Music

Pankaj Udhas leaves behind a rich legacy of ghazal renditions that will continue to enthral listeners for generations. He helped elevate the ghazal art form and introduce it to younger audiences. His style of singing ghazals with a contemporary touch made it more accessible. Pankaj Udhas successfully straddled the classical and popular music worlds.

Young ghazal singers today owe a debt to Pankaj Udhas for laying the foundation on which they can build. Be it new styles of presenting ghazals or making them relevant for today’s audience, he paved the way. The musical journey of Pankaj Udhas will always be cherished as one of the brightest in the galaxy of Indian music.

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