A singer of great calibre who had defined ghazals for the nation, Pankaj Udhas seems to now concentrate a lot more on the digital platform. He is up to date with the social networking sites and other digital avenues and says this change inevitable. Udhas, who has sung a variety of songs for both Bollywood and independent music, says he is disappointed that today audio labels are interested in only producing Bollywood music. Excerpts from an interview:
You took a three-year break before releasing your latest album Madhosh, why the gap?
I was working on an album. I was never convinced that I must release albums at regular intervals. I always thought that I would do an album only when I felt comfortable and confident and whenever I felt that I did something which was more creative than the regular stuff. I don’t really count the months in between and like to do albums at my pace. So, I think that’s the only reason that I took about two-and-a half to three years.
Do you feel that ghazals have lost their ground in the music industry?
Ghazals have been an integral part of our society. They have been around for nearly three four hundred years, so you can’t say that they are finished. All these statements have been made in the past to the extent that they even said ‘ghazals are dead’. But if you look at overall music in India, go back 10-15 or 30 years, then we had distinct genres of music which were available to people that they were listening to. And the reason behind this whole thing was that audio labels were really working hard to promote different kinds of music. Today, audio labels are not interested in promoting anything but Bollywood. And, the only music that is being produced today is Bollywood music so obviously, what has happened here is the supply of what we call non-film music, has dwindled. It’s sad that Bollywood is forced upon us through television and various mediums that we don’t find any other alternative music. But I have a strong feeling that ghazal is that kind of music that will always withstand the onslaught. When people get tired of listening to Bollywood and all the hulla gulla (noise), they start looking for a ghazal CD. So the point is, ghazal is still very much music of choice. Maybe not the first choice but it is still a choice.
How do you think the digital platform helps non-film music?
An alternate avenue had to open up when older avenues got shut for alternate music or non-film music as we call it. Every avenue got shut in terms of audio labels, promotions etc. So new avenues had to open up and that’s how Instagram, Facebook and Twitter opened up. I am sure that the future is these avenues because I don’t think audio labels are interested in promoting anything but Bollywood. If you go on those platforms you will realise that there are so many people who log into music apps and do listen to music which is not Bollywood.
Are you up to date with the new age Bollywood music?
I am being honest that I listen to Bollywood only through some fleeting reference. I am on the jury of a music award show, and every year I do go through the exercise of listening to the most popular Bollywood songs, so I do listen to Bollywood music. I don’t deny that. I would be a hypocrite if I said that. And I am not running it down. I would certainly say that Bollywood has some beautiful songs even today.
Source: The Hindustan Times