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Pankaj  Udhas

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Pankaj Udhas  is a ghazal singer from India. He is credited  along with other musicians like Jagjit Singh and Talat Aziz, with bringing the style to the realm of popular music. Udhas rose to fame for singing in the film Naam (1986 film), in which his song Chitthi Aayee Hai became an instant hit. Following that, he has also performed as a playback singer for numerous films. He has recorded many albums since then and tours the world as an accomplished Ghazal singer. In 2006, Pankaj Udhas was awarded the Padmashree

Pankaj  Udhas was born on May 17, 1951 in Jetpur near Rajkot in Gujarat to a family of Zamindars. With his elder brother, Manhar Udhas already into stage performances, young Pankaj needed no initiation into the world of music. Even before he was five, Pankaj became conscious of his singing skills. But it was only after his first stage performance during the Indo-Chinese war that the music bug bit hard. He sang Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon and won for himself a prize of Rs. 51 that a gentleman in the crowd generously sponsored seeing his talent. The young boy was so moved by the episode that he made a firm decision to take up music professionally.

But it wasn't all that easy for Pankaj as it may sound. With a strong determination to pursue a successful music career, four years hence he joined the Sangeet Natya Academy in Rajkot and learnt the nuances of playing the tabla. But studies was on top of his agenda that time and so he shifted to Mumbai to pursue a Degree in Science from St. Xavier's College where he enthralled audience at each and every inter-collegiate and other open singing competitions, thanks to his immense singing prowess.
And then started a journey for an identity in the film world. So insulated the industry was with Mohd. Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Mukesh and Manna Dey that Pankaj found it difficult to breakthrough. But he was fortunate to get his first break in a film called Kamna way back in 1972, which to his bad luck never saw the light of the day. Disappointed not to get the right kind of break in films, he waited but in vain.

And then life took a right turn for the youngster. Once Pankaj heard his brother Manhar's Urdu teacher listen to Mehndi Hasan and Begum Akhtar. So much was he attracted towards this form of music that he went on to learn Urdu to be able to grasp the depth of ghazals. Pankaj Udhas found his destiny.

Despite learning Urdu and getting into ghazals for almost four years he was struggling. Really frustrated and discouraged from all sides one day he packed his bags and decided to migrate to Canada. A few days over there made him realize how much Indian music is in demand in that part of the world. He did a few ghazal shows in local gatherings in Canada and the US and was amazed by the response. Regaining all the lost enthusiasm he decided to return home with much stronger will to make a mark in ghazals itself.

From his first ghazal album Aahat released in 1980, Pankaj has released around 40 albums with countless number of compilations. In all his albums he has always tried to present ghazals in a manner more appealing to the masses yet maintaining the essence of ghazals. Since singing ghazals by itself is a very limited area with very little scope for innovativeness, Pankaj has tried to use the little scope to the best as he could. In the process he has given the world of music some amazing ghazals, which will remain in the hearts of music lovers for time immemorial.

With ghazals happening along smoothly, Pankaj Udhas also made his foray into films gaining a lot of popularity with the ever popular Chitthi Aayee Hai from the film Naam bringing tears to every music lover's eyes. And his appearance on screen also made Pankaj a star in his own right. After the smashing number he was flooded with offers to do screen appearances. But he played it safe sticking to playback with occasional screen appearances like those in Saajan, Yeh Dillagi and Phir Teri Kahaani Yaad Aayee.

With his soul lying in music, Pankaj took upon himself the task of giving the music world something in return. He started a talent hunt program called Aadab Aarz Hai on Sony Entertainment Television and gave opportunities to a lot of youngsters to present their talents.

Today, Pankaj Udhas has a lot of plans as far as his music is concerned. He is conceptualizing a series of albums singing classic poetry of old poets. Also he is working on some fusion project, which should be a treat for music lovers as and when it releases. Besides his regular ghazal albums are already under plan.

With all the music happening Pankaj Udhas gets little time for doing social work, something he loves to be a part of. His sheer determination to do something good for the society has led to his association with organizations like Cancer Patients Aid Society, Parents Thalassemia Unit, Spastic Society of India and MIND. He works extensively for eradication of leprosy, thalassemia, cancer and for the cause of the mentally retarded. In his 17 years of social work he has done numerous concerts to collect over Rs. 50 lakh for social organizations. He even donated the funds received from the sale of his album Nabeel released in 1989 to the Cancer Patients Aid Society.

From those early childhood days as a singer on stage to his countless albums and film songs, Pankaj Udhas has proved at every stage that he is not only a singer par excellence but also a passionate professional, doing everything possible to stay close to his first love - music. And despite being a thorough professional he hasn't forgotten his duty as a citizen of India and as a human being and has done every possible thing to make the world a better place to live in.


  • 2006 - Pankaj Udhas Awarded Padmashree for completing his Silver Jubilee in Gazal singing career.
  • 2006 - Awarded the prestigious "Kalakar" award at Kolkotta for "Hasrat" as "Best Ghazal album of 2005".
  • 2004 - Special Felicitation at the Wembley Conference Center, London for Completing 20 Years of Performance at the Prestigious Venue.
  • 2003 - MTV Immies Award for the successful album 'In Search of Meer'.
  • 2003 - Special Achievement Award at the Bollywood Music Award, New York for Popularizing Ghazals Across the Globe.
  • 2003 - Dadabhai Naoroji Millennium Award conferred by the Dadabhai Naoroji International Society for Contribution to Ghazal and the Music Industry.
  • 2002 - Award for Excellence in Music Field presented by Sahyog Foundation at Mumbai.
  • 2002 - Honored by the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce.
  • 2001 - Vocational Recognition Award for Outstanding Performance as a Ghazal singer presented by Rotary Club of Mumbai Downtown.
  • 1999 - Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, USA Award for extraordinary services to Indian music, especially promotion of ghazals in India and abroad. Presented at the Festival of Ghazals held in New York.
  • 1998 - Indian Arts Awards Gala presented by the Mayor of the City of Jersey City.
  • 1998 - Outstanding Artistic Achievement Award presented by the American Academy of Artists at Atlantic City.
  • 1996 - Indira Gandhi Priyadarshani Award for Outstanding Services, Achievement and Contribution to Music.
  • 1994 - Honorary Citizenship of Lubbock Texas, USA.
  • 1994 - Radio Lotus Award for Outstanding Achievement and for the many songs featuring on the official hit parade of the radio. Presented by Radio Lotus, South Africa at the University of Durban.
  • 1993 - Giants International Award for extraordinary efforts to achieve the highest standards in the field of music thereby motivating the entire community to pursue excellence.
  • 1990 - Outstanding Young Persons' Award (1989-90) for positive leadership and distinguish services rendered to the nation. Presented by the Indian Junior Chambers.
  • 1985 - K L Saigal Award for being the Best Ghazal Singer of the Year.


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