Ghazal singer Pankaj Udhas passes away at 72 after prolonged illness

The Indian music industry mourns the loss of a legendary figure, as renowned ghazal singer and Padma Shri awardee Pankaj Udhas succumbed to a prolonged illness on Monday. His daughter, Nayaab Udhas, confirmed the melancholic news with a heart-wrenching announcement posted on her Instagram handle. “With a very heavy heart, we are saddened to inform of the sad demise of Padma Shri Pankaj Udhas on 26th February 2024 due to prolonged illness,” she wrote. At age 72, the singer’s velvety voice has gone quiet, leaving his fans and the world of music desolate.

Pankaj Udhas’ death occurred around 11 a.m. at Breach Candy hospital, according to a family source. Arrangements for his last rites were scheduled for the following Tuesday, providing an opportunity for fans and loved ones to bid farewell to the ghazal maestro who had ruled the airwaves for decades.

Pankaj Udhas, born in Gujarat, began his musical journey trained in playing the tabla at the Sangeet Natak Akademi in Rajkot. He first garnered attention with his debut ghazal album ‘Aahat’ in 1980 and continued to captivate audiences with successive hits such as ‘Mukarar’, ‘Tarrannum’, and ‘Mehfil’. However, it was his soul-stirring rendition for the song “Chitthi Ayee Hai” from the Hindi film ‘Naam’ (1986) that served to catapult his reputation to new heights and became a staple in the homes of ghazal aficionados. This cinematic break was instrumental in consolidating his fame, marking a harmonious blend of his ghazal singing with Bollywood’s entertainment industry.

Despite achieving fame and success, Udhas’s journey to stardom was far from easy. In the early 1970s, he made his initial foray into the film industry with ‘Kamna’, but unfortunately, the project was shelved, leaving him disheartened. Yet, perseverance and passion led him towards an illustrious path as he built a reputation for being one of the most prominent voices in the genre of ghazals. His distinctive and profound vocal style captivated not just audiences in India but ghazal enthusiasts around the globe.

Pankaj Udhas’s dedication to the art form was evident in every performance. His ability to evoke deep emotions through his music enabled listeners to experience the soulful depths of ghazal. Through his career, Udhas became not just a singer but a cultural ambassador for the art, delivering performances across the world and helping to spread the appreciation for ghazals far beyond the Indian subcontinent.

His departure from the world of the living has left a void in the music community, but his legacy continues to live on through his extensive discography and the memories cherished by those who had the privilege of experiencing his artistry. As his mellow voice imparted the poetry of ghazals, Pankaj Udhas will forever be remembered as an artist who brought serenity and depth to the lives of many. Amidst the grief, there is a collective acknowledgment of the cultural treasure Udhas has bequeathed to the world—a treasure that will continue to resonate with the timeless appeal of his mellifluous ghazal renditions.

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