Pankaj Udhas was born on May 17, 1951 in Jetpur, Gujarat to Keshubhai Udhas and Jituben Udhas as the youngest of three sons. His elder brother, Manhar Udhas was a stage performer and Bollywood playback singer and his second brother Nirmal Udhas was a ghazal singer and was the first person in his family to take up ghazal singing as a profession.
After his family moved to Mumbai, he studied at the St. Xavier’s College there. He loves listening to the Beatles and ghazals by Begum Akhtar and Mehndi Hassan.
His first stage performance was with his elder brother during the Indo-China war, where he sang the song “Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon” for which he got a reward of Rs.51 from one of the audience. Four years later, he learnt to play the tabla at the Sangeet Natya Academy, in Rajkot.
Pankaj Udhas first debuted in Bollywood as a playback singer in the movie “Kamna” in 1972. Unfortunately the film was never released. That was also the time Pankaj Udhas realized his true interest lay in singing ghazals and learnt Urdu so that he could become a ghazal singer. However, he was not very successful. Disappointed, he decided to migrate to Canada. But when he went there he was surprised at the popularity enjoyed by Indian music there. Subsequently, he did a few shows in Canada and the US and encouraged by the success, he came back to India and released his first ghazal album, called “Aahat” in 1980. The album was a big hit and since then, he has released over 40 albums.
In 1986, he sang the song “Chitti Ayi Hai” in the Bollywood film “Naam” for which he was widely appreciated. In 1990, he sang the song “Mahiya Teri Kasam” with Lata Mangeshkar in the film “Ghayal” which, again turned out to be a huge success. Some of the movies featuring his songs are “Saajan” in 1991, “Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Ayi” in 1993, “Yeh Dillagi” and “Mohra” in 1994. The song “Na Kajre Ki Dhar” from “Mohra” became especially popular.
Pankaj Udhas had hosted a reality talent hunt television show called “Aadab Arz Hai” on Sony Entertainment Television channel where he provided new ghazal singers with an opportunity to showcase their talent.