Ghazal maestro Pankaj Udhas to release a new album this year
At a time when songs like Beat Pe Booty and Bom Diggy Diggy have become the formula for musical success in Bollywood, it is pleasing to see yesteryear legends of Indian music perform on stage. Last weekend at Phoenix MarketCity, Chennai, Pankaj Udhas, whose popular ghazal renditions still attract views and nostalgic comments on YouTube, sang some of his famous songs. What’s more — he is coming up with a new ghazal album too, to be released this year.
The maestro has been a regular performer in Chennai. “One of the many things that I like about this city is the fact that the people of all ages appreciate good music, a fact that I discovered when I first performed here over 40 years ago, right after I graduated from college,” says the 66-year-old Padma Shri, recalling an earlier performance with the late Carnatic vocalist, M Balamuralikrishna. Fresh from completing a multi-city tour in the US, Pankaj is also preparing for a family vacation in Europe in the coming months. In the midst of it all, he has his hands full with multiple projects.
“I am working on a new album which will be released in the second half of this year. It will be a different and unique presentation of ghazal music. There is also an annual ghazal concert in Mumbai called Khazana, which I started in 2002 with Talat Aziz and Anup Jalota. For this year’s edition, we are organising a talent hunt for aspiring singers to give them a chance to perform on stage,” he says, adding that registrations are still going on.
With ghazal no longer getting the support that it used to from record labels and Bollywood, Pankaj is wary of the future for these young musicians. “All we can do is give them the support and encouragement, as instant fame is a rarity for singers of our kind. That said, the talent we discover every year is wonderful,” he admits, adding that it is crucial for them to adapt to changing styles of music. However, on the trend of old songs being rehashed for new movies (Main Tenu Samjhawan, Tamma Tamma Loge), the singer expresses dismay. “It shouldn’t happen at all,” he says.
Watch out for updates on his Facebook page.