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Ghazal singer Pankaj Udhas passes away at 72; PM, singers, actors mourn demise

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Mumbai: Renowned ghazal singer Pankaj Udhas, best known for “Chitthi Ayee Hai” and “Aur Ahista Kijiye Baatein”, died here on Monday following prolonged illness, his daughter Nayab said. He was 72.
Udhas, who also made a mark as a playback singer in many Hindi films, including “Naam”, “Saajan” and “Mohra”, died around 11 am at the Breach Candy hospital, a family source said.
“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,” Nayab wrote in an Instagram post. The last rites will be held on Tuesday.
Tributes poured in from various quarters on Monday for popular ghazal singer Pankaj Udhas who died here at the age of 72 following prolonged illness.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union minister Anurag Thakur, and film industry veterans like Mahesh Bhatt, Anuradha Paudwal, Anup Jalota, Daler Mehndi and Madhuri Dixit Nene were among those who mourned the singer’s death.
According to the prime minister, Udhas’ singing conveyed a range of emotions and his 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,” Modi said in a post on X.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said Udhas’ death is an “irreparable loss” to the music world.
“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,” he wrote on X.
Udhas was an important fixture in many of Bhatt’s movies, beginning with “Naam” where the singer also featured in “Chitthi aayi hai” song.
“If you think of ‘Naam’, you think of ‘Chitthi aayi hai’, you cannot separate the heart from the heartbeat… The song contributed in a very large way to the phenomenal success of the movie.
“Pankaj was outstanding. He would shoot in the day and go do his shows in the night, which he was committed to,” Bhatt told PTI.
Fellow singer Anup Jalota said he knew Udhas had been unwell for the last several months but didn’t realise he would go away so soon.
“I’ve lost my friend. We would discuss everything. Pankaj, Talat and I… our trio was famous. We had great fun together. We would do concerts together. He has had a great contribution in making ghazals popular and accessible. It can never be forgotten,” Jalota said.
Anuradha Paudwal, who collaborated with Udhas on many songs, including “Mohabbat, inayat, karam” and “Tere khamosh hoton se”, remembered Udhas as a nice human being.
“He was a very good artiste for the world but to me he was a very close and dear friend… We studied together in St. Xavier’s and then we both joined the industry. We recorded many popular duets. He was a great singer, a great artiste, very soft spoken… but over and above that, he was a very nice human being. He was close to everyone,” Paudwal told PTI.
Actor Madhuri Dixit Nene mourned the death of Udhas and said his songs will forever linger in the hearts of people. In the 1991 romantic drama, “Saajan” – featuring Nene, Salman Khan, and Sanjay Dutt, Udhas sang “Jeeye To Jeeye Kaise”, which continues to be one of the most loved tracks.
“Deeply saddened by the loss of a music legend, Pankaj Udhas Ji. His gazals touched the souls of people worldwide. His legacy will forever linger in our hearts! Om Shanti #RIP,” she said.
Singer Daler Mehndi said his heart was heavy with the news of the death of the gentlest music exponent.
“Chitthi na koi sandesh… wishing you a beautiful, peaceful journey ahead… surely Pankaj-ji, your songs remain etched in our memories,” he said in an X post.
“Huge loss to the music world .. #PankajUdhas ji’s music touched millions of hearts across the planet. His legacy will live on for ever. Deepest condolences to his family and loved ones,” said actor Ritesh Deshmukh.
Sonu Nigam, in a post on Instagram, said Udhas was an important part of his childhood.
“One of the most important part of my childhood, is lost today. Shri Pankaj Udhas ji, I will miss you forever. My heart cries knowing that you are no more. Thank you for being there. Om Shanti,” he wrote.
Actor Abhishek Bachchan called the singer’s demise an irreplaceable loss to music.
“My sincere condolences to his family and friends in this difficult time. Om Shanti,” he said in a post on social media.
Filmmaker Sanjay Gupta said his heart is broken.
“Heart breaking. Pankaj Udhas Ji has passed away. May his soul rest in peace. Thank you for the music,” he said.
Singer-composer Sona Mohapatra fondly recalled her meeting with Udhas for a ghazal festival.
“Full of grace & a thorough gentleman, I met Pankaj Udhas jee when he had invited me to perform at his Khazana Ghazal Festival. While many of us know him as a singer and performer, he was also a composer par excellence with super hits like – Ek Taraf Uska Ghar, Chand Jaisa #OmShanti,” she said.

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