‘Pankaj Udhas made ghazals part of mainstream music’ say Anshul Garg and Sagar Bhatia | Exclusive

The twilight of February has brought with it a sobriety that has enveloped the music fraternity as ghazal aficionados worldwide mourn the loss of an icon. Pankaj Udhas, whose life was a mellifluous ode to the art of ghazal singing, left for his celestial abode after a prolonged illness on the 26th of February 2024, causing immeasurable grief in the hearts of music lovers.

Pankaj Udhas, known for his profound expression and silken voice, held a stature that transcended the cultural and geographic boundaries of music. His renditions of ghazals were not just songs but emotional journeys that could stir the soul. From intimate mehfils to grand stages, he had an uncanny ability to connect with his audience, rendering every performance unforgettable. It was this quality that made him an unparalleled luminary in his genre.

The maestro’s departure was announced solemnly by his family, leaving admirers in a state of disbelief. Given the magnitude of his influence, the news has echoed throughout the music industry, touching the lives of countless individuals, including present-day artists who drew inspiration from his works.

In an exclusive conversation with midday.com, Anshul Garg and Sagar Bhatia, two modern exponents of music, reflected on the profound impact Pankaj Udhas had on their lives and careers. Garg, with noticeable emotion in his voice, reminisced about the days when the ghazals of Udhas played in the background of his life, becoming the soundtrack of his formative years. “Referring to Pankaj Udhas sir in the past tense is unimaginable,” he said, his voice heavy with sorrow. “He, alongside Jagjit Singh ji, brought the beauty of ghazals to the mainstream, winning hearts all over India. His song ‘Aur Aahista’ remains an evergreen favorite, and witnessing him perform live was seeing magic unfold.”

Udhas wasn’t just a singer; he was a musical storyteller whose songs were woven with the emotions and experiences of life itself. Every note he sang was imbued with a sense of timeless elegance that resonated with young and old alike. Garg’s voice, fraught with emotion, summed up the collective sentiment, “His passing is a monumental loss to the Indian music industry. While he may have left us, his music is immortal.”

Sagar Bhatia, another voice from the contemporary music scene, expressed his grief, stating how Pankaj Udhas had been a behemoth of motivation. “For those of us in the industry, Pankaj Udhas sir has been a colossal inspiration. His contribution to making ghazals mainstream can’t be overstated. He paved the way for artists like me to delve into genres such as Qawwali.” Bhatia’s respect for Udhas is piercingly evident, as he notes the profound void left by the maestro’s absence. “The emotions in his songs resonated deeply before, but now, they strike a chord starker than ever,” he added.

It is a universal truth that while legends may pass, their legacies endure. Pankaj Udhas’s daughter, Nayab, echoed the sentiment of many in her Instagram post, announcing the loss of her father. “With a very heavy heart, we inform you of the sad demise of Padmashri Pankaj Udhas.” The final rites, destined to be a gathering of mourning and tribute, will take place on Tuesday.

The departure of Pankaj Udhas has certainly formed a void in the aesthetic fabric of music that can never truly be filled. Yet, in the lanes of memory and through the alleys of his songs, he continues to live on, immortalized by his melodies and cherished by a world that will forever remember the maestro who made ghazals an everlasting part of their lives.

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