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Home > Entertainment News > Bollywood News > Article > Pankaj Udhas How a Gujarati speaking man with zero musical background became a ghazal legend

Pankaj Udhas: How a Gujarati-speaking man with zero musical background became a ghazal legend

Updated on: 26 February,2024 08:01 PM IST  |  Mumbai
mid-day online correspondent |

Pankaj Udhas death: The ghazal legend was born in Jetpur in Gujarat, and neither knew Hindi nor Urdu before he moved to Mumbai

Pankaj Udhas passed away on February 26

Key Highlights

  1. Hailing from Gujarat, Pankaj Udhas` mother tongue was neither Urdu nor Hindi
  2. Listening to ghazals on the radio as a kid would excite him
  3. He fell in love with Urdu after moving to Mumbai

Pankaj Udhas' career as a ghazal singer spanned over four decades. He sang countless melodies in those years, some of which are evergreen and will always remain etched in the memories of music lovers. His journey to the pinnacle of success as a ghazal singer had a humble start. Born in Jetpur in Gujarat, he neither knew Hindi nor Urdu. His family, which hails from a town named Charkhadi near Rajkot, had no musicians either. 

Recalling his journey into music, Udhas had said, "I come from Gujarat, so, my mother tongue is neither Urdu nor Hindi. Gujarati was the only language spoken around me. But, two things played a role in getting me interested in music. My father was fond of it, and would come home from work and play the Esraj, because he liked it. As a child, I would look forward to that. Also, my brothers had already started singing. That is what attracted me towards it. At some point, it became a passion."

Listening to legends

Listening to other singers live also acted as an inspiration for him. "As a young kid in Rajkot, I had the chance to listen to Mukeshji, Manna De, and Talat Mahmood sa’ab, live. I would insist on going to their concerts even though I didn’t know them to be [the maestros that they were]. I was influenced by the radio, which would be on when I’d return from school. In off-peak hours, they’d play ghazals, and that would excite me," he recalled.

Moving to Mumbai

Udhas learned Urdu after moving to Mumbai. "When I came to Mumbai, I was exposed to maestros and started learning Urdu. I fell in love with the language. People can’t write off this form of music [ghazals]. My blood boils when people ask why Ghazal didn’t get its rightful place. I am inspired to keep working towards furthering the genre since we must prove that this is not the case," he said.

Advice for young artists

"You need to have an understanding of [who you are] as an artiste," he had said. "Playback singing is different from singing ghazals, but whether you learn Western or Hindustani music, you have to love and learn the craft. Practicing daily is essential. You need to have the kind of passion that a warrior does when pursuing whatever it is that you choose; perseverance and patience will take you far. The average kids today are very talented. After singing in reality shows, they tend to think they’ve arrived, and stop working on enhancing their craft. That’s when things take a turn for the worse."

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