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Pankaj Udhas is a
ghazal singer from India. He is credited along with other musicians like
Jagjit Singh and Talat Aziz, with bringing the style to the realm of popular
music. Udhas rose to fame for singing in the film Naam (1986 film), in which his
song Chitthi Aayee Hai became an instant hit. Following that, he has also
performed as a playback singer for numerous films. He has recorded many albums
since then and tours the world as an accomplished Ghazal singer. In 2006, Pankaj
Udhas was awarded the Padmashree
Pankaj Udhas was born on May 17, 1951 in
Jetpur near Rajkot in Gujarat to a family of Zamindars. With his elder brother,
Manhar Udhas already into stage performances, young Pankaj needed no initiation
into the world of music. Even before he was five, Pankaj became conscious of his
singing skills. But it was only after his first stage performance during the
Indo-Chinese war that the music bug bit hard. He sang Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon and
won for himself a prize of Rs. 51 that a gentleman in the crowd generously
sponsored seeing his talent. The young boy was so moved by the episode that he
made a firm decision to take up music professionally.
But it wasn't all that easy for Pankaj as it may sound. With a strong
determination to pursue a successful music career, four years hence he joined
the Sangeet Natya Academy in Rajkot and learnt the nuances of playing the tabla.
But studies was on top of his agenda that time and so he shifted to Mumbai to
pursue a Degree in Science from St. Xavier's College where he enthralled
audience at each and every inter-collegiate and other open singing competitions,
thanks to his immense singing prowess.
And then started a journey for an identity in the film world. So insulated the
industry was with Mohd. Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Mukesh and Manna Dey that Pankaj
found it difficult to breakthrough. But he was fortunate to get his first break
in a film called Kamna way back in 1972, which to his bad luck never saw the
light of the day. Disappointed not to get the right kind of break in films, he
waited but in vain.
And then life took a right turn for the youngster. Once Pankaj heard his brother
Manhar's Urdu teacher listen to Mehndi Hasan and Begum Akhtar. So much was he
attracted towards this form of music that he went on to learn Urdu to be able to
grasp the depth of ghazals. Pankaj Udhas found his destiny.
Despite learning Urdu and getting into ghazals for almost four years he was
struggling. Really frustrated and discouraged from all sides one day he packed
his bags and decided to migrate to Canada. A few days over there made him
realize how much Indian music is in demand in that part of the world. He did a
few ghazal shows in local gatherings in Canada and the US and was amazed by the
response. Regaining all the lost enthusiasm he decided to return home with much
stronger will to make a mark in ghazals itself.
From his first ghazal album Aahat released in 1980, Pankaj has released around
40 albums with countless number of compilations. In all his albums he has always
tried to present ghazals in a manner more appealing to the masses yet
maintaining the essence of ghazals. Since singing ghazals by itself is a very
limited area with very little scope for innovativeness, Pankaj has tried to use
the little scope to the best as he could. In the process he has given the world
of music some amazing ghazals, which will remain in the hearts of music lovers
for time immemorial.
With ghazals happening along smoothly, Pankaj Udhas also made his foray into
films gaining a lot of popularity with the ever popular Chitthi Aayee Hai from
the film Naam bringing tears to every music lover's eyes. And his appearance on
screen also made Pankaj a star in his own right. After the smashing number he
was flooded with offers to do screen appearances. But he played it safe sticking
to playback with occasional screen appearances like those in Saajan, Yeh Dillagi
and Phir Teri Kahaani Yaad Aayee.
With his soul lying in music, Pankaj took upon himself the task of giving the
music world something in return. He started a talent hunt program called Aadab
Aarz Hai on Sony Entertainment Television and gave opportunities to a lot of
youngsters to present their talents.
Today, Pankaj Udhas has a lot of plans as far as his music is concerned. He is
conceptualizing a series of albums singing classic poetry of old poets. Also he
is working on some fusion project, which should be a treat for music lovers as
and when it releases. Besides his regular ghazal albums are already under plan.
With all the music happening Pankaj Udhas gets little time for doing social
work, something he loves to be a part of. His sheer determination to do
something good for the society has led to his association with organizations
like Cancer Patients Aid Society, Parents Thalassemia Unit, Spastic Society of
India and MIND. He works extensively for eradication of leprosy, thalassemia,
cancer and for the cause of the mentally retarded. In his 17 years of social
work he has done numerous concerts to collect over Rs. 50 lakh for social
organizations. He even donated the funds received from the sale of his album
Nabeel released in 1989 to the Cancer Patients Aid Society.
From those early childhood days as a singer on stage to his countless albums and
film songs, Pankaj Udhas has proved at every stage that he is not only a singer
par excellence but also a passionate professional, doing everything possible to
stay close to his first love - music. And despite being a thorough professional
he hasn't forgotten his duty as a citizen of India and as a human being and has
done every possible thing to make the world a better place to live in.
- 2006 - Pankaj Udhas Awarded
Padmashree for completing his Silver Jubilee in Gazal
- 2006 - Awarded the
prestigious "Kalakar" award at Kolkotta for "Hasrat" as
"Best Ghazal album of 2005".
- 2004 - Special Felicitation
at the Wembley Conference Center, London for Completing 20
Years of Performance at the Prestigious Venue.
- 2003 - MTV Immies Award for
the successful album 'In Search of Meer'.
- 2003 - Special Achievement
Award at the Bollywood Music Award, New York for
Popularizing Ghazals Across the Globe.
- 2003 - Dadabhai Naoroji
Millennium Award conferred by the Dadabhai Naoroji
International Society for Contribution to Ghazal and the
- 2002 - Award for Excellence
in Music Field presented by Sahyog Foundation at Mumbai.
- 2002 - Honored by the
Indo-American Chamber of Commerce.
- 2001 - Vocational
Recognition Award for Outstanding Performance as a Ghazal
singer presented by Rotary Club of Mumbai Downtown.
- 1999 - Bharatiya Vidya
Bhavan, USA Award for extraordinary services to Indian
music, especially promotion of ghazals in India and abroad.
Presented at the Festival of Ghazals held in New York.
- 1998 - Indian Arts Awards
Gala presented by the Mayor of the City of Jersey City.
- 1998 - Outstanding Artistic
Achievement Award presented by the American Academy of
Artists at Atlantic City.
- 1996 - Indira Gandhi
Priyadarshani Award for Outstanding Services, Achievement
and Contribution to Music.
- 1994 - Honorary Citizenship
of Lubbock Texas, USA.
- 1994 - Radio Lotus Award
for Outstanding Achievement and for the many songs featuring
on the official hit parade of the radio. Presented by Radio
Lotus, South Africa at the University of Durban.
- 1993 - Giants International
Award for extraordinary efforts to achieve the highest
standards in the field of music thereby motivating the
entire community to pursue excellence.
- 1990 - Outstanding Young
Persons' Award (1989-90) for positive leadership and
distinguish services rendered to the nation. Presented by
the Indian Junior Chambers.
- 1985 - K L Saigal Award for
being the Best Ghazal Singer of the Year.