35 years in music is a long time for any musician internationally, however Pankaj Udhas has the voice which surpasses time and age. His voice still resonates with the young and the old and his albums still continue to reach out the audience and keep them in an enthralled trance. With peers in the Indian music industry such as Jagjit Singh, Udhas made a name for himself with his song Chithi Aayi Hai from Bollywood film ��Naam�۪ (1986). Since then, he has been playback singer for numerous films and has done tours worldwide as a ghazal singer. The music legend recently spoke about his experiences in the music industry and tried to find out the secret behind his magnificent voice.
What has your journey been like in the music industry?
���I am very fortunate that I haven�۪t had a chance to think or to get into nostalgia or to look back because I have been just on the go for nearly 35 years plus. I have been travelling and working extensively and it is very obvious that there is hardly any space to think about what this journey was all about but yes I have started thinking about it now. Obviously there are times where you feel that you want to share your journey with the world, as to what is your take is on what you have done. I have started slowly noting down my journey and I hope that by the end of this year, I can put together my thoughts in a form of a book and hopefully by December 2014 or January 2015, I would like to launch a book which would talk about my life and how I took up music in spite of not coming from a musical background.�
How would you sum up your journey so far?
���I started very young. Life has been a rollercoaster as for me the journey has not been a straight graph, it has been very eventful. I have experienced the highs and the lows. I would say that I have dearly cherished and have enjoyed myself immensely and one has to be extremely fortunate to have these experiences.�
How do you keep your musical passion alive?
���Passion is an in built phenomenon, you cannot acquire it. It is something you are born with and is a fire burning inside. I am born passionate about music and creation and it is really mind boggling as to how my passion has grown over a period of time instead of declining. It is a mystery, I have always wondered where it has come from but nothing excites me more or is more thrilling than doing a great concert or a new ghazal. Challenging music is my passion and I enjoy it the most.�
Why do you think Chithi Aayi Hai still resonates with the audience?
���I am always amazed when I see a 60 year old gentleman enjoy Chiti Aayi Hai and I speak to my daughter who is a college going girl and she still enjoys it. That song is a still a phenomenon in India with the young and the old and abroad, it is even bigger because Chiti Aayi Hai is full of nostalgia and national spirit. It is all about your own land and your old culture. It is not only a song but a reminder to all about their country, their home and their relations.�
Which songs do you enjoy performing in concert?
���My whole repertoire has many songs, there are 50 songs that are so popular – songs, ghazals and nazams which I find difficult to fit into one concert. There is a song called Maai which is dedicated to mothers which I will be performing on this tour because it is from my latest album which was released in 2013. It has created tremendous amount of interest all around the world and when I performed it in America, people were crying in the audience. There are, of course, songs which are always popular with Chandhi Jaisa Rang, Jiye toh Jiye kaise and Aista Kijaye . Maai and Chithi Aayi Hai ��are always difficult to sing because the words are so emotional and I have to take control of my emotions on stage.�
How do you project your emotions into your voice?
���The emotions you can hear and feel is my voice is myself, this is how I am and this is who I am. It is reflected in myself. My entire personality reflects in the way I portray my emotions in my music.�
Do you get the same thrill doing live performances?
���Doing a live performance is the biggest thrill a musician can get. You can confirm this with any musician on this planet because when you perform live, you don�۪t have the option of repeating your mistakes or what you have done before. Live performances are where are absolutely alert and in front of thousands of people so being in front of those people is a big thrill and then to follow this, you have this tremendous response from these people if you doing a great concert or performing the right music. Then the response and the deafening sound of the applause is the biggest thrill an artist lives for.�
Can you remember the first time you performed in the UK and what was it like?
���I was on a tour after I had just finished college and I was backpacking and travelling through Europe, USA and Canada and this was back in 1976. I landed in London from Paris quite broke, I didn�۪t have much money on me and I was staying with some friends. These friends suggested that there was a small concert happening in London where the local London based musicians were performing and if I liked to go. So I went on a Sunday and I was in the audience and these friends of mine told them that I was Mr Manoj Udhas�۪ brother and I was pushed to sing to the London audience in 1976. I still remember that the only thing you sang in those days were film songs and some ghazals too. I sang one song of late Mukeshji and I sang a ghazal from Mehdi Hasan saab. I gained a fantastic response from the audience and ended up singing seven to eight songs. That was the first time I sang in the UK.
���As a ghazal singer, my first concert was in 1984 in London�۪s Royal Albert Hall. This recording became very popular after the concert with the song Chandi Jaisa Rang Hai Tera. I have some beautiful memories of performing in the UK.�
How do UK audiences compare to others around the world?
���It has been a very different kind of audience as it comprises of the Punjabi and Gujarati community but also the Bengali and Sri Lankan communities. I have a huge following in Afghanistan and in the Middle East and the whole audience is like a bouquet of flowers as so many nationalities come together from all over the world. I get to sing to so many people who all speak different languages.�
We wish Pankaj Udhas all the best for his concerts in the UK and for the future release of his book later on this year.
BizAsia are official online partner of Pankaj Udhas’s UK tour 2014 from 4th-6th April. Please visit the Rock On Music Ltd website for more information:��www.rockonmusicuk.com