Brushing aside fears of Swine flu, crowds thronged to listen to Pankaj Udhas this past week. "I recorded the ghazal, ‘Deewaron se milkar rona’ as part of my first album in 1980," shared Pankaj Udhas with his audience, during Paigham-e-Mohabbat, a live concert held this past week at Siri Fort auditorium.

“Therefore, it holds a special place in my heart,” he elaborated, as he commenced the evening with this hit number.

The packed auditorium, with people jostling for space even on the aisles, reverberated with rapturous applause each time the maestro sang from his repertoire of masterpieces, including “Chaandi jaisa rang hai tera” and “Badi mahengi hai sharab, thodi thodi piya karo.”

“My foray into the world of Hindi films has been very fulfilling,” reminisced Udhas, as he sang from the film Sajjan, “Jiyen toh jiyen kaise” and from Naam, “Chhithi aayee hai”, which catapulted him to greater fame.

For leprosy patients

The concert, organised for the benefit of Nayee Asha , an NGO working for the betterment of children of leprosy patients since 1984 in Western Uttar Pradesh, was inaugurated by Agatha Sangma, Minister of State for Rural Development. Speaking on the occasion, Father Anthony, who has been associated with the NGO since its inception, disclosed, “At present 360 children are benefiting from this initiative, and our endeavour is to ensure that no child of a leprosy patient is deprived of education and health, and see that the next generation is free from it.”

Besides ghazals, Udhas also treated the audience to nazms and semi-classical geets. The novelty of Udhas lies in his imbuing the ghazal with something new each time he sings, thereby retaining its freshness for the audience, even if someone is hearing it for the umpteenth time. Like a magician he holds something up his sleeve, and lets the anticipation build in the audience before giving a subtle new dimension.

Another area where Udhas comes up trumps is the creative freedom he gives to his team of musicians “who have been with me for years now”. Thus, at his ghazal concert, one can also enjoy some truly amazing recitals on the flute, table, synthesiser and violin, in solo, as well as enthralling jugalbandis.

Did someone mention swine flu? Avoid crowded places? Certainly, the large crowd at Siri Fort took no notice, as they celebrated Pankaj Udhas.