Pankaj udhas to sing his ghazals for free online to raise funds for children suffering from thalassemia

By Team Bollyy
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Pankaj udhas

Jyothi Venkatesh

Pankaj Udhas, the renowned ghazal maestro is all set to embark upon a novel concept in India. In a free annual musical concert to be organised by The Parents Association Thalassemic Unit Trust (PATUT) which treats children suffering from Thalassemia, Pankaj Udhas is all set to regale the audience with his pre- recorded ghazals at 8.30 pm on November 21, 2020. Since a live concert is not advisable due to the ongoing pandemic, the concert will be presented free on line and those who are interested in donating for the noble cause can donate whatever they feel like online.

Pankaj says that in India, it was for the first time that he had the good fortune to perform a grand ghazal symphony concert with a large group of musicians in Shanmukhananda Hall which had a capacity of around 300 people in the audience. Generally and traditionally ghazal singers used to perform only with sarangi and harmonium but over a period of time they started performing with different instruments. "It was what I would say a breakaway concert from the traditional way of performing ghazal numbers. Generally the listeners are very used to listening to ghazals in the same format and not at all used to record musical pieces and arrangement".

The concert was the play child of Abhinav Upadhyay who had played tabla with the late maestro Jagjit Singh. It was he who had approached Pankaj with the concept of doing a ghazal orchestra with symphony. "I am a singer who is known to experiment. Right from the time I was singing in the early 80’s, I have done various experimentations as a singer and though the whole ghazal singing is limited, I have tried to experiment all along. In 1995, I did the first ever multiple recording with me doing 16 tracks. It was considered very different from the way ghazal albums were brought out and hence my album Nayaab became a path breaking album especially since it had a completely different approach to it.

Pankaj selected popular ghazals of his after he gave the list to Abhinav who suggested the name of Deepak Pandit, who had played the violin with Jagjit Singh. "Deepak is not only a singer but also a composer as well as arranger who had collaborated with me on albums like Endless Love and Nayaab Lamhe. In Nayaab Lamhe, it was for the first time that I had the privilege of collaborating with Padmashree Gulzar saab and I thought that Deepak will be able to do good justice to Nayaab Lamhe.

Pankaj says that Abhinav suggested that I approach Deepak to do the symphonic arrangement for music and he agreed immediately and also started working. "It was not easy because the symphony arranger has to write the song first in terms of harmony and figure out the middle areas and crescendo. It involved a lot of hard work and recreation and took a little time and we were ready for a rehearsal.

It was a different experimentation for me because we do not stick to a particular pattern. There was a lot of improvisation but we did not stick tone timeline. There could be 16 bars or one for one minute too. The ghazal is free flowing with no set pattern. It involved focused rehearsals and the end result was superb because the performance was without any glitches as we had done a lot of rehearsals and I sang with Deepak giving me the cues".

Pankaj's daughter Nayaab who has a business of events and Abhinav have a far sighted vision and felt that the moments should be captured for posterity and had recorded professional video shooting in multiple track live recording. It was way back in late 2018. Then Pankaj says that he forgot all about it and Nayaab Lamhe was released.

"In 2020 I completed 40 years of my ghazal singing career and I planned to do a concert at Nehru Centre in February and wanted to do a series of concerts throughout the year and culminate on November 27 but fate had something else in store for all of us and the lockdown started in the wake for the novel coronavirus pandemic in February-March this year and I had to put all my plans on a back burner".

In July-August, Pankaj was chatting with Abhinav and they remembered the symphony concert and he suggested that since he had shot the concert on video, we should package it properly. The idea excited me and I suggested we should be online to celebrate my 40 years of ghazal singing as I have remained away for the whole year and did not appear even in FaceBook Live or do any online performance or come on youtube.

I have been associated with an organization which looks after the cause of Thalassemia among the kids for over 30 years. I suggested that we organize a fundraising show in aid of the kids and Nayaab got in touch with Hungama Digital with which we had worked earlier too. Keto web site is helping us to collect funds.

We have got the support from Transasia. Kotak Mahindra, Big FM Radio etc and they are going to raise as much as we can to treat kids who need bone marrow transplantation. Each treatment will cost anything between 12 to 16 lakhs. It will be the first ever kind of a ghazal symphony orchestra in India.

It will have live streaming on Hungama . We will also have FaceBook streaming on Saturday November 21 this year at 8.30 pm. If you want to enjoy the ghazals, log in on to Pankaj Udhas' Facebook page, Youtube page etc and watch the show and donate freely any amount that you can , even Rs 10".

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