Every year on Republic Day, the government confers the highest civilian awards in three categories: Padma Vibhushan (for exceptional and distinguished service), Padma Bhushan (for distinguished service of a high order), and Padma Shri (for distinguished service). This year, President Pranab Mukherjee conferred 10 Padma Vibhushans, 19 Padma Bhushans and 83 Padma Shris. Apart from celebrities such as Rajinikanth (Padma Vibhushan) and Anupam Kher, Ajay Devgn and Priyanka Chopra (all Padma Shris), the recipients include classical singers and dancers and a filmmaker from Andaman and Nicobar.
The Banaras gharana singer Girija Devi, who has been given a Padma Vibhushan, is also known as the “Queen of Thumri.” She has popularised the purabi ang thumri (eastern origin song) style of Varanasi.
Renowned Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi dancer Yamini Krishnamurthy has received the Padma Shri (1968), the Padma Bhushan (2001) and now the Padma Vibhushan for her contribution to the arts. This Films Division documentary from 1971 is an excellent primer on her work.
Bhikhudan Gadhvi is a Gujarati artist who narrates folk tales in the performance style known as Dayro (gathering), in which raconteurs reflect on human nature through humour and satire. He has been awarded the Padma Shri.
Bharatnatyam dancer Prathibha Prahlad has received the Padma Shri. This video clip from her stage production Vande Mataram showcases performance styles from across the country.
Tulsidas Borkar plays the harmonium and has been awarded the Padma Shri.
Indian classical singer Soma Ghosh, who is also the adopted daughter of the shehnai player Bismillah Khan, has been felicitated with the Padma Shri.
Gulabi Sapera is a Rajasthani gypsy dancer from the nomadic Kalbeliya community. She has been honoured with the Padma Shri. Sapera is known for her collaborative work with French composer Thierry Robin (aka Titi Robin), whose music is a confluence of Oriental and European sounds. In 2002, they released the music album Rakhi, in which he composed and she narrated folk tales and sang songs about her community. The track “Neem” includes her playing the pungi (wind instrument) and chanting. In 2011, Sapera also featured in the fifth season of the reality television show Bigg Boss.
Dadaria is a type of folk song from Chhattisgarh that people sang while working in paddy fields. Singer Mamta Chandrakar has been awarded the Padma Shri for her efforts in keeping the tradition alive.
Padma Shri recipient Malini Awasthi sings in Awadhi, Bundelkhandi, Bhojpuri and Bollywood. Her Hindi movie career is thanks to music composer Pritam, for whom she sang the raunchy “Dil Mera Muft Ka” (Agent Vinod, 2012). She also sang the uproarious “Sundar Susheel” for Anu Malik in Dum Laga Ke Haisha,(2015), with a special emphasis on a mofussil English accent.
Theatre and film director Naresh Chander Lal from Andaman and Nicobar has been awarded a Padma Shri for his work. Beyond the Horizon, a 19-minute film made by the islander, can be viewed here.
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