Pankaj Jha: A Sanskrit scholar gone viral with his version of Dheere Dheere Se

  • Sweta Kaushal, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 19, 2016 17:26 IST
Pankaj Jha is pursuing his PhD in Sanskrit grammar at the Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha. During his visit to the HT office in Delhi, he also recorded few other popular Bollywood songs in Sanskrit.

In this age of technology and e-communication, it is not unusual to come across various cover versions of a popular song. Pankaj Jha’s musical debut on YouTube, however, brings something new to the table.

Pankaj, who is pursuing his PhD in Sanskrit grammar at the Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, has sung Dheere Dheere Meri Zindagi – a famous song from Aashiqui (1990)– in the ancient tongue. And his video is going viral online.

But how did Pankaj come upon the idea of melding Bollywood music and Sanskrit – both characteristic factors of apparently divergent worlds – into a single entity? “I came upon the idea in class. A student wanted to know if Sanskrit dealt only with old stories and shlokas. I told him there were songs as well. The kid then challenged me to render a Sanskrit version of the recently released song Dheere Dheere Se Meri Zindagi by Honey Singh. I translated the entire song in the class,” Pankaj told Hindustan Times.

During his visit to the HT office in Delhi, Pankaj also recorded few other Bollywood songs in Sanskrit.

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Pankaj also translated and recorded Bollywood numbers Manma Emotion Jaage (Dilwale, 2015), Piya Tu Ab To Aaja (Caravan, 1971) and more songs, exclusively for HT. Watch them here:

It was only later that Pankaj managed to record the song, in earnest. “When I came to Delhi, I realised the potential of the Internet and found the means to arrange for a studio recording,” he said.

Pankaj hails from a family of priests in Deoghar, Jharkhand. He has even conducted pujas at the famous Shiv temple in Deoghar, where his father is a priest. Though the PhD scholar hasn’t had any formal training in music, he has been practising the tabla for two years now.

Watch Honey Singh’s version of Dheere Dheere Se

Unlike English and other foreign languages, Sanskrit offers little scope for career growth. Why, then, should anyone bother to learn it? “Apart from academics, one can look at ways to popularise Sanskrit. Many plays, songs and books are still being written in this language. You can also work as a translator at various embassies,” Pankaj replied.

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So, does he plan to become a Sanskrit singer in the future? Pankaj is yet to decide on that. Though he has received offers for making an album, his examinations are due in a few days.

Watch the original song from Aashiqui (1990)

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