Interviews ...

“Pankaj Udhas ji has left a void that can never be filled” – Nikhil Kamath

Pankaj Udhas began his career as a ghazal singer in the late 1970s. After releasing his debut album ‘Aahat’ in 1980, he never looked back and regaled listeners with several renditions for decades. He was one of the singers who was responsible for making ghazals accessible to the common man. Apart from releasing private albums, Pankaj also lent his voice to several incredible Hindi film songs including ‘Chitthi Aayee Hai’ (‘Naam’), ‘Aaj Phir Tum Pe’ (‘Dayavan’), ‘Kisi Ne Bhi To Na Dekha’ (‘Dil Aashna Hai’), ‘Na Kajre Ki Dhar’ (‘Mohra’) and ‘Naghmon Ke Rang’ (‘Vaade Iraade’).

During his long journey as a ghazal singer, Pankaj collaborated with several film composers. In the mid-2000s, he joined hands with composer duo Nikhil – Vinay on the ghazal album ‘Hasrat’. The album, which was released by T-Series, had ten original ghazals and came out in the year 2005. While Nikhil – Vinay composed all the ghazals, the writing credits were shared by Praveen Bhardwaj, Sunil Jogi, Nusrat Badr and Jyoti Nayar. The most popular ghazal from the album was ‘Peene Walo Suno’.

Reminiscing about the days they spent with Pankaj Udhas working on this album, Nikhil Kamath, one-half of Nikhil – Vinay says, “It was the first time we got the opportunity to collaborate with Pankaj Udhas ji. He was a thorough gentleman. Despite achieving so much success, he remained a very humble and hardworking person. We used to go to Pankaj ji’s residence for sittings. We would play the tunes on his harmonium. He would record the songs on his Walkman, practice them and come to the studio completely prepared. We recorded all the ghazals for ‘Hasrat’ in Sudeep Studio in Khar which was owned by T-Series.

While Nikhil got the opportunity to work with Pankaj Udhas several years after the veteran singer had stepped into the music industry, he was a fan of Udhas right from the time he was a child. Before breaking out as a ghazal singer, Pankaj had ma de a name for himself singing legendary singer Mukesh’s songs on stage. Nikhil was an audience member in one such show and that led him towards following Udhas’ work as a singer.

Elaborating on this, he says, “When I was living in Bhulabhai Desai Road near Breach Candy, Mumbai, he was a few buildings away from me. He used to live in a building called Geeta Bhavan. When I was in school, he used to perform to Mukesh ji’s songs on the stage. Once, somebody had given me a ticket to his show happening at Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan. He was performing along with his brothers Manhar Udhas and Nirmal Udhas. I remember once a new record shop called Kothari Electronics opened in our neighbourhood. I used to visit the shop frequently. One day, I saw an album called ‘Aahat’ being put up on display. It was Pankaj ji’s debut album and was produced by India Book House. I collected some money over a period of time and bought the album.”

After collaborating with Pankaj on ‘Hasrat’, Nikhil remained in touch with him. In 2014, Nikhil got Pankaj and Anup Jalota for a song titled ‘Zindagi Har Lamha’ for ‘Don’ (1978) director Chandra Barot’s ‘Hum Baja Bajaa Denge’. Though Nikhil and Pankaj would not meet frequently, the composer would make it a point to wish him on his special occasions. The ghazals rendered by Pankaj, Nikhil says, have been a constant companion in his life. 

“Some of my favourite ghazals rendered by Pankaj ji have been “Aahista”, “Sabko Maalum Hai Main Sharaabi Nahin”, “Deewaron Se Milke Rona Achcha Lagta Hai”. Pankaj ji had a very sweet voice. He used to sing geetnuma ghazals which became very popular with the masses. His ghazals were very simple but effective. That’s why they reached out to so many people. His ghazals were popular among listeners of all ages. They had a softness to them. His contribution to the music industry will always be remembered. He has left a void that can never be filled.”

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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