Delhi has supported my music, says ghazal singer Pankaj Udhas | music | Hindustan Times
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Delhi has supported my music, says ghazal singer Pankaj Udhas

Ghazal singer Pankaj Udhas will be performing in Gurgaon, for the first time on January 27, at Orana Convention

music Updated: Jan 24, 2018 18:01 IST
Naina Arora
Ghazal singer Pankaj Udhas speaks about how he was introduced to music at a young age, and his love for performing in the Capital.
Ghazal singer Pankaj Udhas speaks about how he was introduced to music at a young age, and his love for performing in the Capital.

Did you know that the ghazal singer Pankaj Udhas recites Hanuman Chalisa before all his concerts or, that schoolboys organised his concert in Delhi in the 1980s? In a tête-à-tête with us, the singer who is set to perform for the first time in the Millennium City on January 27 at Orana Conventions, talks about all this and more.

Udhas’ career spans over four decades with performances across the globe, and he says that he has “mastered the art of judging the audience” and often changes the selection based on their taste. “By the time that I sing the second or third number, I know precisely what kind of audience I’m singing to. I go with the flow because every city, state or country has a typical audience and you got to have a knack for judging as to what they want out of you,” says Udhas who has several popular hits such as Chandi Jaisa Rang, Ahista, Chitthi Aai Hai among others.

About his concert in Delhi-NCR, he says, “I am looking forward to it, as officially, this would be my first concert in Gurgaon. I remember once singing at Gurgaon’s Gymkhana Club, 20 years back, which was not advertised or open to the public. However, I have been coming to Delhi for concerts for over 30 years now.”

The Capital holds special memories for the musician. “Delhi has been kind to me in terms of supporting my music. I still remember, in the ’80s a couple of school going boys from Delhi, approached me to organise my concert at Siri Fort Auditorium, through a dear friend. They announced the concert in a newspaper and the tickets were sold out within a week. They thought that maybe this is a good idea and announced the second concert. At the end of the two shows, after paying off everybody, they earned quite a bit of money, which they spent on a holiday,” smiles Udhas.

The singer says that he has no background in music but his relationship with it began at an early age. “My forefathers were landlords. But my father was quite fond of music and out of his passion, [he] learned to play an instrument called dilruba/esraj. And that made a deep impact on all [of us] three brothers. My mother, though not a trained singer would sing. I remember [for different] weddings, [for] all the songs, my mother would be asked to lead the group. And I sang ghazals as an amateur. [Post that], I worked quite hard to bring it to the level of professionalism.”

Udhas feels that singers today have “lost their identities”, “When the radio station plays a song, they never say that Arijit Singh or Sonu Nigam has sung the song. They say agla gaana Shah Rukh Khan or Salman Khan or Akshay Kumar ki film ka. But what about the singer, lyricist or music director? [I feel] this is all thanks to a hardcore marketing game,” says Udhas, who also roots for a dedicated FM channel for Ghazals and devotional music.

In the age of singles, ask him how difficult has it been to keep reinventing music, and he says, “There is no denying that there is a paradigm shift in the music world/business. Gone are the day when you could easily sell CDs and cassettes. Now, there is a whole new approach to selling music - make a single and put it on Youtube - get people to view and download it. Unfortunately, in our country, we have not reached that level of awareness in terms of the Internet [working] towards supporting the artists’ music. So, the revenue from the music has been practically zero.”

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