Pankaj Udhas took ghazals from the elite to common people

Pankaj also encouraged young musicians. File photo | Manorama

The late ghazal singer Pankaj Udhas, who passed away on Monday, will always be remembered by fans and fellow musicians for his soulful music. Apart from leaving behind numerous songs that are capable of lifting people's spirits, Udhas was instrumental in popularising ghazal among the ordinary masses.

In fact, a legion of song lovers began enjoying ghazals thanks to Udhas. They eventually followed other ghazal singers and became fans of this style of music. It is for this reason that the death of the musician Udhas evokes pain even among common folk.

Udhas's popularity, however, was not well-received by a section of 'experts' who believed that classical arts should be enjoyed only by an elite minority. However, his fans were always quick to come to his defense whenever he was at the receiving-end of such 'experts.'

Udhas was also someone who encouraged fresh talents. He organised ‘Khazana’, a music festival in Mumbai where he provided an opportunity for youngsters to share the stage with established singers and introduced them to music lovers. The music festival, launched in 2001, also served as a venue to launch the albums of several upcoming singers.

Udhas donated all the profits from the music festival for the treatment of cancer patients and to parents of children suffering from thalassemia. When Covid struck, it had a huge toll on Udhas. Online programmes denied him the opportunity to get real reactions from the audience.

Though live music events resumed post Covid, by then, Udhas, was affected by pancreatic cancer. Even then, Udhas continued to pursue music. His death leaves a void not only in ghazal singing but also deprives ordinary people of an artist who made this branch of music accessible to them. He also proved that love of humanity can make music sweeter.

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