‘Success didn’t change Pankaj Udhas when he was a ghazal superstar’ says Kavita Krishnamurti | Exclusive


In a sobering tribute to one of India’s most cherished ghazal voices, Pankaj Udhas’s departure left a deep void in the world of Indian music. The maestro, synonymous with the soulful track ‘Chitthi Aayee Hai,’ succumbed to an extended illness on Monday, closing a chapter full of melodic wizardry at the age of 72.

Spanning a career that introduced myriad melodious ghazals, Pankaj Udhas teamed up with numerous artists, gifting fans classics that resonate with emotions. Singer Kavita Krishnamurti, his longtime collaborator, lent her voice alongside Udhas on duets including ‘Aankh Mere Yaar Ki Dukhe’ (Ek Hi Raasta), ‘Mohabbaton Kaa Safar Hai’, and ‘Bareyada Mounada Kavite’ (Sparsha). Sharing her recollections exclusively with mid-day.com, Kavita expressed her affection and respect for the ghazal maestro.

“Pankaj Udhasji was the sweetest and the nicest person in the music industry. One of the finest singers, his song ‘Chitthi Aayee Hai’, makes every Indian emotional. He had a very beautiful voice. I have known him from my St Xaviers Sangeet Mandal days. I will miss his smiling face and courteous ways. Success didn’t change him, especially when he was a superstar in the ghazal field, and he met all his old friends the same way,” she recounted fondly.

The news of his passing was conveyed through an Instagram post by his daughter Nayaab. Her message bore the weight of her anguish, “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.”

As confidants and colleagues mourned, ghazal singer Talat Aziz also paid his emotional respects through social media. “I knew he was unwell for the past couple of days. He was very serious. I am not aware of the exact cause. However, it is the end of an era with Pankaj passing away. Lots of memories. We started our career together, did a lot of concerts, and spent a lot of time being friends. I couldn’t meet him recently due to his ill health. I pray that his soul rests in peace. It has been shocking for us, especially me and Anup (Jalota),” Talat penned, visibly distraught at the loss of his friend.

Pankaj’s claim to fame soared with the release of his solo ghazal album ‘Aahat’ in 1980, marking the inception of an illustrious journey that was to etch his name in the annals of Indian music. His subsequent albums, ‘Mukarar’ in 1981, ‘Tarrannum’ in 1982, and ‘Mehfil’ in 1983, were met with overwhelming adoration. His Midas touch extended to Bollywood, where he rendered immortal classics like ‘Chitthi Aayi Hai’ (Naam), ‘Chhupana Bhi Nahi Aata’ (Baazigar), ‘Mahiya Teri Kasam’ (Ghayal), and ‘Na Kajre Ki Dhar’ (Mohra), endearing him ever more to his legion of fans.

Pankaj’s contributions to music showered him with numerous accolades, and notably, in 2006, he was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri, one of the highest civilian honors in India, in recognition of his outstanding artistry.

As the nightingale of India, Kavita Krishnamurti mourns alongside the nation, the legacy of Pankaj Udhas is immortalized through his melodies. His voice may have hushed, but his songs continue to resonate in the hearts of countless admirers, echoing with a profundity that transcends time, a true testament to a superstar unchanged by fame and loved by all.

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