Ghazal maestro Pankaj Udhas passes away aged 72 due to prolonged illness says family

The Indian music industry mourns the loss of one of its most cherished voices, Pankaj Udhas, who mesmerized generations of Ghazal aficionados. The legendary singer succumbed to a prolonged illness at the age of 72. His enchanting voice, which turned ghazals into mainstream melodies, has fallen silent, leaving behind a rich legacy of music that resonates deeply with his fans.

On Monday, February 26, 2024, the melodic maestro breathed his last at Mumbai’s Breach Candy hospital. His daughter Nayab confirmed his passing, stating that the renowned artist departed this world around 11 am, leaving a void in the hearts of millions. A statement released by the family read, “With a very heavy heart, we are saddened to inform you of the sad demise of Padmashri Pankaj Udhas on 26th February 2024 due to a prolonged illness.” The final rites of the acclaimed singer were conducted the following Tuesday.

Pankaj Udhas began his musical journey in 1980 with his debut ghazal album ‘Aahat’. He quickly rose through the ranks of the Indian music scene, enchanting listeners with albums such as ‘Mukarar’ (1981), ‘Tarrannum’ (1982), ‘Mehfil’ (1983), ‘Nayaab’ (1985), and ‘Aafreen’ (1986). His velvety voice found a theatrical platform as well, when he was invited by director Mahesh Bhatt to lend his vocals to the film ‘Naam’. Udhas’ rendition of ‘Chitthi Aayee Hai’ etched his name in the annals of Indian cinema, the song swiftly climbing the charts to become a nationwide sensation.

Throughout his illustrious career, Pankaj Udhas collaborated with numerous other musical legends, including a celebrated duet ‘Mahiya Teri Kasam’ with the nightingale of India, Lata Mangeshkar, for the movie ‘Ghayal’. In 1994, he delivered another hit, ‘Na Kajre Ki Dhar’, alongside Sadhana Sargam, featured in the movie ‘Mohra’. His contributions to music and his unparalleled skill in ghazal singing earned him the prestigious Padma Shri award in 2006, India’s fourth highest civilian honour.

Born into a family of music connoisseurs in Jetpur, Gujarat, Pankaj Udhas was the youngest among three brothers. Music ran in his veins, with his eldest brother Manhar Udhas carving out a successful niche as a Hindi playback singer, and his second eldest brother, Nirmal Udhas, also known for his ghazal renditions.

The loss of Pankaj Udhas is not just the passing of a singer but the end of an era in Indian music. He was instrumental in bringing the ghazal genre to the masses, appealing to both classical and contemporary audiences. His emotive expression, impeccable timing, and the delicate inflections in his voice turned each performance into a heartfelt experience. The news of his passing quickly spread across social media channels and fans from all walks of life shared their grief and memories associated with his music.

The life and songs of Pankaj Udhas will continue to be celebrated by music lovers everywhere, his albums revisited, and his voice playing on as a comforting echo to those whom he has left behind. As the curtains fall on his storied career, his melodies live on, immortalized by the depth of their poetry and the warmth of his voice. The Indian music realm stands in solemn silence as it pays its respects to a maestro whose songs will never cease to evoke the poignancy of love, loss, and longing.

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