‘Ghungroo Toot Gaye’: A Tribute To Pankaj Udhas

‘Ghungroo Toot Gaye’: A Tribute To Pankaj Udhas

It was our silver anniversary. I called Pankaj Udhas to invite him for the evening. “Aapka hukum hai, zaroor aayenge. Per ek sharat hai.” “Kya?” I asked. “Anniversary ki sham aap dono ke naam, meri taraf se.”

Dr Sandeep GoyalUpdated: Monday, February 26, 2024, 09:11 PM IST
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Pankaj Udhas came to the Turf Club and performed a full two-hour concert for our gathering of family and friends … I can still remember the wonderful his signature renditions – Chandi Jaisa Rang Hai Tera, Thodi Thodi Piya Karo, Chitthi Aayee Hai, Ahista, Ek Taraf Uska Ghar, Aap Jinke Kareeb Hote Hain, Niklo Na Benaqab, Deewaron Se Mil Kar Rona Achha Lagta Hai… it was, as always, a mesmerising performance. Tanya, my wife, and I will always remain ever grateful to Pankaj Udhas for making our silver so unforgettable. He sang Ghungroo Toot Gaye twice that evening on popular demand, and it was this very song of his that I first heard in the early 1980s that has been coming back to me all day today as memories kept flooding back of Pankaj, my friend of over two decades.

I was first introduced to Pankaj Udhas in 2001. He came to see me at Zee TV, where I was then Group CEO, with a charity project that I could just not say no to. Pankaj wanted to host a two-day concert for the Cancer Society. He said he would get all the top ghazal artists of the country free of cost and all funds raised at the concert would go for cancer cure. I instantly said yes and Zee TV became the presenting sponsor and broadcast partner of Khazana.

Many years later Pankaj told me how it had all started. Three friends and ghazal singers, Pankaj Udhas, Anup Jalota and Talat Aziz, were having an informal dinner at Pankaj’s place. Thinking back to the 1980s, they remembered Khazana, the ghazal festival started by music label Universal that was discontinued after five years. That evening, the friends decided to re-launch Khazana, a platform in Mumbai where young ghazal singers could perform alongside seasoned veterans. Pankaj was already associated with Parents Association: Thalassaemic Unit Trust (PATUT) in Mumbai and Cancer Patient’s Aid Association (CPAA). He suggested the concert be a fund-raiser for these two organisations. Since then Khazana – the Festival of Ghazals held around September every year has become an annual feature with over 20 concerts over the years. Tanya and I have attended most of them.

PankajUdhas was born on April 17, 1951, in Savarkundla, Gujarat. He hailed from a family where his elder brother, Manhar Udhas, found success as a Hindi playback singer in Bollywood. Pankaj too relocated to Mumbai later on and attended St Xavier’s College. He gained recognition as a professional singer with his song “Chitthi Aayee Hai” from the film Naam (1986).

Ever-smiling, polite, friendly, affable and with never a negative thought for anyone, Pankaj never behaved like a celebrity. Always punctual, always well-mannered and always correct. Dignified. Warm-hearted. Kind-hearted. I just can’t believe he has passed on.

It is actually ironic that Pankaj Udhas, the most committed and devoted fund-raiser against cancer, actually himself succumbed to it. With his demise ghungroo toot gaye – aaj deewaron se mil kar rona achha lagta hai.

Pankaj Udhas, RIP.

Dr Sandeep Goyal is chairman of Rediffusion.

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