Superstar Rajinikanth and classical singer Girija Devi were today selected for Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian award, while Anupam Kher, Udit Narayan, Priyanka Chopra and Ajay Devgn are among other Padma honourees from Bollywood.
65-year-old Rajinikanth, one of the most celebrated actors of his generation with fans according him the status of a demi-god, is already a recipient of Padma Bhushan.
“Feeling deeply honoured for being awarded the Padma Vibhushan. My heartfelt thanks to my dear fans, well wishers & friends for all the wishes,” Rajinikanth tweeted.
His daughter Soundarya and son-in-law Dhanush expressed happiness over the announcement, calling it a proud moment.
Making his debut with K Balachander’s “Aboorva Ragangal” in 1975, the actor saw a steady rise to stardom. The Tamil superstar has also acted in Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Bengali films. His famous movies are “Thalapathi”, “Nallavanuku Nallavan”, “Sivaji” and “Enthiran” among others.
Devi, 86, already a Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan recipient, is known as thumri queen for popularising the genre. She is also an exponent of khyal and tappa.
Kher will receive Padma Bhushan with Narayan, who ruled Bollywood playback singing in the ’80s and ’90s.
The “Saaransh” actor said he was “happy, humbled and honoured” to be recognised for his career of three decades.
“I am happy, grateful, thankful for this award. I am thankful to the people of this country for this honour. I wish my father was alive today to see this…he used to enjoy when I got awards,” Kher told PTI.
“I believe one should just keep working hard. This reaffirms my faith in the philosophy that good work pays off.”
Both Kher and Narayan are already Padma Shri winners.
Actors Ajay Devgn and Priyanka Chopra, 33, filmmakers Madhur Bhandarkar, Nila Madhab Panda, SS Rajamouli and folk singer Malini Awasthi have been named for Padma Shri awards, besides a posthumous honour for actor Saeed Jaffrey.
Devgn, a two-time National award winner, is known for his intense performances in films like “Zakhm”, “The Legend of Bhagat Singh”, “Omkara”, “Gangajal” and “Drishyam”.
“I feel deeply humbled yet elated to receive such honour from my own country. This announcement today makes it special for me when I’m filming abroad for my new film ‘Shivaay’. I’d like to acknowledge that Padma Samman puts an extra responsibility on me and I promise to serve my country for as long as I can,” Devgn, 46, said in a statement.
Priyanka, a National award winner for “Fashion”, has turned up critically acclaimed performances in movies like “Kaminey”, “Agneepath”, “Barfi!”, “Mary Kom” and “Bajirao Mastani”.
Jaffrey, who passed away last year, starred in as many as 100 Hindi films, including acclaimed projects like Satyajit Ray’s “Shatranj Ke Khiladi”, “Gandhi” and “My Beautiful Laundrette”.
Bhandarkar has directed films like “Chandani Bar”, “Page 3” and “Fashion”. Panda is best known for his children’s film “I Am Kalam”, while Rajamouli is behind the recent blockbuster “Baahubali”.
“Really grateful, honoured to be awarded Padma Shri. I accept it with all humility, this great respect bestowed by my Government and my country,” Bhandarkar tweeted.
The Padma awards, which are announced on the eve of the Republic Day, are conferred by the President at a function in Rashtrapati Bhawan in March/April every year.