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Pankaj Udhas, Renowned Indian Ghazal Singer, Dies at 72

Pankaj Udhas, the Indian singer renowned as an exponent of the ghazal form of musical poetry, died in Mumbai after a prolonged illness. He was 72.

Udhas’ daughter Nayaab revaled the news via an Instagram post: “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.”

Udhas debuted with ghazal album “Aahat” in 1980. Several hit albums followed, including “Mukarar” (1981), “Tarrannum” (1982) “Mehfil” (1983), “Pankaj Udhas Live at Royal Albert Hall” (1984), the album release of his concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall, “Nayaab” (1985) and “Aafreen” (1986).

In a country where songs from films enjoy primacy, Udhas gained a vast new fan following with the release of Mahesh Bhatt’s hit film “Naam” (1986) where he sang “Chitthi Aayee Hai,” and appeared as himself at a concert set in a Hong Kong auditorium. Hit songs in several Bollywood films followed, including “Dayavan” (1988), “Gawaahi” (1989), “Ghayal” (1990), “Saajan” (1991) and “Mohra” (1994) among many others.

In addition, Udhas composed songs for the Bollywood films “Aurat Pair Ki Juti Nahin Hai” (1985) and “Ek Hi Maqsad” (1988).

In 2006, Udhas was accorded the Padmashree, one of India’s highest civilian honors, for services to the field of ghazal music, and his charitable work.

“We mourn the loss of Pankaj Udhas Ji, whose singing conveyed a range of emotions and whose Ghazals spoke directly to the soul. He was a beacon of Indian music, whose melodies transcended generations. I recall my various interactions with him over the years. His departure leaves a void in the music world that can never be filled. Condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti,” said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

India’s Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur posted: “Deeply saddened the news of passing of Pankaj Udhas ji. His career, spanning more than 4 decades, enriched our music industry and gifted us with some of the most memorable and melodious renditions of gazals. His demise is an irreparable loss to our music world. My sincere condolences to his family, friends, and followers in this difficult time. May his soul rest in peace.”

Anup Jalota, Udhas’ contemporary, who is also an enormously popular singer, posted: “Shocking… Music legend & my Friend #PankajUdhas passes away. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his Family and loved ones during this difficult time.”

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