Pankaj Udhas, Bollywood Singer and Maestro of the Ghazal, Dies at 72

Pankaj Udhas, a singer from India whose soulful renditions of ghazals, or lyric love songs, were a cornerstone of many Bollywood films over his decades-long career, died in Mumbai on Monday. He was 72.

His death was announced on social media by his daughter Nayaab Udhas. She did not specify the cause, saying only that he had died after a prolonged illness.

Mr. Udhas moved generations of people in India and the Indian diaspora by singing ghazals, the lyric poems that have been written for centuries in Persian, Hindi, Urdu, Turkish and other languages. He also worked as a playback singer, the term for a vocalist who recorded tracks offscreen for actors to lip-sync over.

Mr. Udhas became a stalwart in the Indian music industry through both his discography of more than 50 albums and the enormous success of the movies in which he sang.

But his true passion, he said in a 2018 talk organized by Google, was the ancient lyric form.

“My heart was always with ghazals,” he said. “Cinema, though it was an attraction,” he added, “it was never the first choice.”

Padmashri Pankaj Udhas was born on May 17, 1951, in Jetpur, a city in the western Indian state of Gujarat, several Indian news media outlets reported. His father, Keshubhai Udhas, played the dilruba, a traditional Indian stringed instrument. His mother, Jeetuben Udhas, sang. And both of his brothers, Manhar and Nirmal, became professional singers.

Related Articles

Back to top button