Pankaj Udhas, the legendary ghazal singer, passes away at 72

Pankaj Udhas

Mumbai: The Indian music industry has lost one of its most beloved and respected artists, Pankaj Udhas, who passed away on Friday, February 26, 2024, at the age of 72. He was suffering from a prolonged illness and breathed his last at Bridge Candy Hospital in Mumbai, according to a statement issued by his family. His daughter Nayab Udhas shared the news of his demise on social media, expressing her grief and gratitude for his fans and well-wishers.

Early life and career

Pankaj Udhas was born as Pankaj Udhas Charan on May 17, 1951, in Rajkot, Gujarat, to Keshu Bhai Udhas and Jeetu Ben Udhas. He belonged to a landlord’s family in Jaitpur, Rajkot, and had two elder brothers, Manhar Udhas and Nirmal Udhas, who were also renowned singers. Pankaj Udhas moved to Mumbai with his family and completed his graduation from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai.

He started his musical journey at a young age and was inspired by the ghazal maestros like Mehdi Hassan, Begum Akhtar, and Jagjit Singh. He made his debut as a playback singer in 1976 with the film Kamna, but gained fame and recognition with his ghazal ‘Chithi Aayi Hai’ for the film Naam in 1986. He went on to sing many memorable songs for Bollywood films, such as ‘Jeeye To Jeeye Kaise’ for Saajan, ‘Na Kajre Ki Dhar’ for Mohra, ‘Aur Ahista Kijiye Baatein’ for Dastak, and ‘Chandi Jaisa Rang Hai Tera’ for Khushboo.

However, Pankaj Udhas was best known for his ghazal albums, which showcased his velvety voice and poetic expression. He released more than 50 albums in his career, some of which were Aahat, Mukarrar, Tarannum, Nabeel, Nayaab, Shagufta, Aman, and Mehfil. He also performed live concerts across India and abroad, captivating audiences with his soulful renditions of ghazals and nazms.

Awards and honors

Pankaj Udhas was honored with many awards and accolades for his contribution to the Indian music industry and culture. He received the Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian award of India, in 2006, for completing 25 years in ghazal singing. He also received the Global Indian Music Academy Award (GIMA) for his ghazal album Shaayar in 2010. He was conferred with the Lata Mangeshkar Award by the Madhya Pradesh government in 2011, and the Dayawati Modi Award by the Dayawati Modi Foundation in 2014. He was also nominated for the Filmfare Award for Best Male Playback Singer four times in his career.

Legacy and impact

Pankaj Udhas was one of the most popular and influential ghazal singers of India, who brought the genre to the masses and made it accessible to the younger generation. He was admired and respected by his peers and fans alike, for his humble personality and artistic excellence. He was also involved in various social causes and charitable initiatives, such as the Parents Association Thalassemic Unit Trust (PATUT), the Cancer Patients Aid Association (CPAA), and the National Association for the Blind (NAB).

Pankaj Udhas is survived by his wife Farida Udhas, his daughters Nayab and Nayaab, and his son Nihar. His funeral was held on Saturday, February 27, 2024, at the Oshiwara crematorium in Mumbai, where many celebrities and dignitaries paid their last respects. His fans and admirers also expressed their condolences and tributes on social media, remembering his songs and ghazals that touched their hearts and souls.

Pankaj Udhas

Pankaj Udhas will always remain in the hearts of people through his music, which was a blend of melody, emotion, and poetry. He was a true legend of ghazal singing, who left behind a rich and lasting legacy.

Some of his hit songs and ghazals

Chithi Aayi HaiNaam1986
Jeeye To Jeeye KaiseSaajan1991
Na Kajre Ki DharMohra1994
Aur Ahista Kijiye BaateinDastak1996
Chandi Jaisa Rang Hai TeraKhushboo1985
Chupke ChupkeMahek2006
Ek Taraf Uska GharNayaab1987
Ghunghroo Toot GayeAahat1980
Thodi Thodi Piya KaroShagufta1988
Sharab Cheez Hi Aisi HaiMehfil1989