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The Best of Pankaj Udhas

February 27, 2024 13:33 IST

A golden name in the world of ghazals and playback singing, Pankaj Udhas regaled listeners with his dulcet voice on silver screen and stage.

Growing up in a family of zamindars and government officials in a small village of Charakhadi near Rajkot, the thought of becoming a professional singer never crossed his mind.

Instead he dreamed of spin bowling for Team India or pursued a degree in science from Mumbai's St Xavier's College in hopes of becoming a doctor. But his interest in music, a passion he picked from his esraj (a stringed instrument) aficionado father and melodious mother along with his musically-inclined older brothers Manhar and Nirmal paved the way for his inevitable career.

In 1972, Composer Usha Khanna gave him a break with the melancholic ditty, Tum Kabhi Saamne Aa Jao in Kaamna.

When offers didn't start pouring in as expected, a disappointed Udhas took off to Canada hoping to start afresh in a brand new direction. It wasn't long before he realised music is where his heart is and things truly took off once he launched his maiden album of ghazals, Aahat in 1980.

A few years later, he would appear as himself in Mahesh Bhatt's Naam for one of the most emotional sequences of the movie leaving an auditorium of listeners on screen and off it covered in tears.

And the legend of Pankaj Udhas grew in song and stature.

His elegant body of work, LIVE and recordings, is a tuneful treasure whose melody and memory lives on. Fondly remembering the late singer and 10 of his superhit songs.


Chhithi Aayi Hai from Naam (1986)
Music: Laxmikant Pyarelal
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi

When Producer Rajendra Kumar requested Pankaj Udhas to act as himself for a song sequence for Naam, as a ghazal star performing before a homesick NRI audience, the singer had second thoughts.

After some persuading, he warmed up to the idea and delivered one of the milestone musical moments of his career.


Ek Taraf Uska Ghar (1985)
Music: Pankaj Udhas
Lyrics: Zafar Gorakhpuri

A magnificent combination of intoxicating poetry and playful rhythm comes alive in this evergreen Pankaj Udhas beauty and concert favourite from his 1985 album, Naayab (it's also the name of his daughter).


Chandi Jaisa Rang from Ek Hi Maqsad (1988)
Music: Pankaj Udhas
Lyrics: Mumtaz Rasheed

Few may recall the movie, but the doting song is much adored by all who've heard it in its original and revived avatar.

Originally filmed on Raj Kiran and Divya Rana, the Pankaj Udhas composed chartbuster, reappeared in a youthful music video at the peak of 1990s Hindi pop music renaissance.


Aaj Phir Tumpe from Dayavan (1988)
Music: Laxmikant-Pyarelal
Lyrics: Aziz Qaisi

A chartbuster from Feroz Khan's Nayakan remake, Aaj Phir Tumpe grabbed eyeballs for the lip lock between Vinod Khanna and Madhuri Dixit on screen while discerning listeners couldn't have enough of that distinctly Pankaj Udhas flavour in a quintessential Laxmikant Pyarelal composition featuring Anuradha Paudwal's honeyed presence.


Mohabbat Inayat Karam from Baahar Aane Tak (1990)
Music: Rajesh Roshan
Lyrics: Indeevar

Baahar Aane Tak sank without a trace, but its album became a rage, especially the Punjabi dance ditty Kaali Teri Choti and the romantic duet Mohabbat Inayat performed by Pankaj Udhas and Anuradha Paudwal complimenting each other's vocal texture to create a diverse sound.


Jeeye Toh Jeeye Kaise from Saajan (1991)
Music: Nadeem Shravan
Lyrics: Sameer

There are several versions of the heart-breaking Jeeye Toh Jeeye sung by several significant voices in the hottest selling soundtrack of 1991.

One of them belongs to the inimitable Pankaj Udhas, pitching in a cameo as himself in the Sanjay Dutt-Madhuri Dixit-Salman Khan love triangle.

And Salman's raving reaction to the ghazal maestro during the recital perfectly sums up everyone else's sentiments too.


Kisi Ne Bhi Toh Na Dekha from Dil Aashna Hai (1992)
Music: Anand Milind
Lyrics: Majrooh

A under-rated gem from the Hema Malini directed melodrama starring Shah Rukh Khan, Dimple Kapadia and Divya Bharti, the poignant mood of Kisi Ne Bhi hits another level of melancholic under Pankaj Udhas' lilting rendition.

His personal presence, in yet another guest appearance, adds a touch of authentic to the scenario.


Na Kajre Ki Dhaar from Mohra (1994)
Music: Viju Shah
Lyrics: Indeevar

Where Mast Mast and Tip Tip topped the charts for their obvious razzle dazzle, Mohra's list of chartbusters wouldn't be complete without the mellow, mushy appreciation for Na Kajre Ki Dhar by a pitch perfect Pankaj Udhas.


Dil Jab Se Toot Gaya from Salaami (1994)
Music: Nadeem-Shravan
Lyrics: Sameer

Back in the 1990s, a lot of movies gained success purely on the strength of their soundtrack. Salaami falls under this type.

And Pankaj Udhas duly conveys the woes of a jilted lover to the hilt in the drama and dejection of its catchy heartbreak number, Dil Jab Se Toot Gaya.


Aur Ahista Kijiye Baatein (1999)
Music: Pankaj Udhas
Lyrics: Zafar Gorakhpuri

Besides turning the likes of Sameera Reddy, Vidya Balan and John Abraham into stars of his breezy music videos, the soothing notes and easy charm of his voice and tunes as Pankaj Udhas found a sweet spot between ghazal and pop endeared him to an entirely new generation.

As Aur Ahista from the album Stolen Moments amply demonstrates.