Krishna calling

Bollywood might be dominating the music charts in the country but Pankaj Udhas’ soulful ghazals still command attention and now his fans are in for a two-album treat¬†this month.

Pankaj Udhas
Ghazal singer Pankaj Udhas at his home at Carmichael Road in the city. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Recently, Udhas has launched a devotional music album titled, Hey Krishna a collection of seven Krishna bhajans. He will also launch a ghazal album later this month. “I don’t work on bhajan albums usually and when I do, it’s because of my devotion and to create a spiritual connect.

I have always wanted to work on an album dedicated to Krishna. Sometime in the 1980s, I had done a concert at the ISKCON temple but unfortunately, it wasn’t recorded.

Recently, out of coincidence, I was able to listen to the work of Krishna bhajans by Ali-Gani (the music director-duo of the album) and thought ‘why not fulfill this long-time wish’?”

The album is a mix of traditional and contemporary sounds. “We have included traditional Meera bhajans and modern bhajans by Sudhakar Mishra and Narayan Agarwal.

Ali-Gani are from Rajasthan so they added the flavour of Meera’s homeland, as the programming of the album has been done by my UK-based nephew Kartik Udhas, to give it a contemporary touch. I feel that music must evolve to affect a wider audience, especially the young.”

Ghazals for today
Udhas maintains that the ghazal is still going strong today. “Its beauty lies in outstanding poetry, which can be appreciated by people of different generations.

During my last few concerts, it was encouraging and heart-warming to see that 60% of the crowd was between 25 to 35 years of age,” he says. According to him, ghazals are quite popular in the West. Udhas plans to take a two-month tour to USA, Canada and West Indies soon.

The Bollywood touch
Udhas is responsible for hits in Bollywood films such as Jeeye Toh Jeeye (Saajan) and Chithi Aayi Hai (Naam). But where do ghazals stand today in Bollywood? “Bollywood music today relies on international influences such as Rock, Contemporary and even ballads.

But I feel that there is scope for ghazalnuma or ghazal-based songs in movies. The industry is always looking for soulful music, which since the past four to five years has been Sufi music. If you take songs such as Chithi Aayi Hai with a modern arrangement, it still fits in,” reasons Udhas.¬†

Pankaj Udhas

Hey Krishna, Pankaj Udhas, `199. Available at leading music stores.

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