Known for his silken voice and choice of uncomplicated simple lyrics easily accessible to even those not comfortable with complex Urdu or Persian, Pankaj Udhas has carved a niche for himself in a career spanning several decades.
The man behind the idea of the ghazal festival Khazana – a milestone on the city's cultural calendar – which saw its 13th edition unfold over the weekend in Mumbai recounted how the festival was first started by a music company, "Talat Aziz, Hariharan, Anup Jalota and many others who were just beginning found a platform we all enjoyed and thought we had a good thing going. But it folded up in 2-3 years."
He remembers how that idea was revived in 2002 when these artistes came together at a concert. "From the beginning we contributed the entire proceeeds of the festival for cancer and thalassemia patients," he points out and adds, "Apart from that we decided to introduce at least four new budding ghazal exponents every year. This is a way of ensuring that the Khazana of this genre is carried on as a legacy."
From a tribute to KL Saigal to one in honour of Begum Akhtar, we have always curated the festival around a theme. This year, to mark 100 years of Indian cinema, there was a special retrospective of ghazals and nazms with a medley of some of the most prominent and popular movie numbers from the 1950s till date. "From Ghulam Haider to Naushad, Madan Mohan, Khayyamsaab and beyond we have seen how ghazals and nazms have played a very important role in Indian cinema projecting some of the most intense emotions on screen," Udhas said.
No wonder then that the line-up this year included Bhupinder and Mitali Singh, Talat Aziz, Suresh Wadkar, Sadhana Sargam and Sonu Nigam apart from Udhas himself, names that have lent their voice to some amazing ghazals in films.