‘I’m not obsessed with songs of sharab’ | music | Hindustan Times
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‘I’m not obsessed with songs of sharab’

Pankaj Udhas on his comeback with the Maan Gaye Mughal-e-Azam track, interviewed by Rachana Dubey.

music Updated: Jul 30, 2008 16:49 IST
Rachana Dubey

On his comeback with the Maan Gaye Mughal-e-Azam track Ek to sharaab kam
My association with Ratan Jain and Anu Mallik goes back a long way. They know which kind of songs suit my voice. It’s a qawwali between Kay Kay Menon and Paresh Rawal. They’re comparing a broken heart to a broken bottle of sharaab. I would call it a ghazalnuma qawwali.

On the ongoing identification with Chhithi aayee hai from Naam (1986)
Yes, that remains one of my three decade-long career’s high point. But I didn’t become popular with Chitthi aayee hai. Rajendra Kumar saab was looking for a known singer who could carry off the song. He approached me, I mistook it for an acting offer. He explained I’d be appearing in the film singing that number on stage. I was a popular singer years before Naam was even conceptualised.

On going on and on about sharaab in ghazals
I don’t promote sharaab in my ghazals. Of the 400 I have sung, only 20 to 30 of them may have referred to sharaab. They ended up becoming more popular than my other ghazals. I had also signed a contract two decades ago with a music label. After my contract ended, they have released hundreds of compilations of my sharaab songs in such away that it seems as if I’m obsessed with songs of sharaab. I’m helpless because I can’t stop them.

On brother Manhar Udhas
Bhai had the best playback voice. Composers like Kalyanji Anandji and Laxmikant Pyarelalmade him sing for lead actors. But after they shut shop, Manhar bhai wasn’t heard in the movies. Today, he is extremely busy. He’s the ace in Gujarati ghazals today. Gujaratis the world over know him.

On Jagjit Singh
See, he was years my senior. I was a teenager when I first met him. I don’t hold anything against him. I would have loved to have him sing for my Khazana festival. I cannot afford him because he charges an exorbitant fee.