Padma awards for Bollywood - the delayed and the deserved

Mumbai, Jan 26 (IANS) That Rajesh Khanna is being honoured with a Padma Bhushan is a good thing. That he is being honoured after his death is not such a good thing.

Why wait for the legends to die before honouring them? Why honour him with a Padma award a good 35 years after his hey days are over?

Between 1969 and 1974, Rajesh Khanna saw the kind of stardom no other actor had ever seen. Shouldn't the government have honoured him closer to his glory days? If not, then at least while he was still alive to go on stage and recite the immortal lines that Sahir Ludhianvi wrote for the superstar in Yash Chopra's "Daag".

"Aap, aap kya jaane mujhko samajhte hain kya, main toh kuch bhi nahi. Is kadr pyaar itni badi bheed ka, main rakhunga kahaan?"

The Padma awards were announced Friday.

The other posthumous winner from the entertainment industry - Jaspal Bhatti seems a bit of a sentimental choice.

A leading entertainer from Bollywood on condition of anonymity opined: "With due respects to Jaspal Bhattiji, he was a terrific comic talent. But would he have received the Padma Shri, let alone the Padma Bhushan had he not passed away so suddenly in a road accident last year?"

There seems to be no quibble over Sharmila Tagore getting the Padma Bhushan. Having worked with directors as distinctive as Satyajit Ray and O.P. Ralhan, she epitomises the spectral spirit of the entertainment industry and also has to her credit a substantial body of work besides acting.

The Padma Shri for Sridevi and Nana Patekar also has gone to the deserving.

Director R. Balki, who produced Sridevi's comeback film "English Vinglish", said: "Sri brings honour to the national award with her presence. It's not just the fact that she has made a glorious comeback with 'Engish Vinglish'. Her repertoire of work in three languages spans a good 30 years of solid performances."

Nana Patekar, of course, is much more than an actor.

"He gives so much to society that is not written about. He is a farmer and a social worker. Unlike other showbiz folks, who first invite the press and then do charitable work, Nana hates it if anyone gets to know about his work for social causes. So please don't mention my name. But he deserves a lot more than just a Padma Shri," said a close friend of the actor.

As for Ramesh Sippy, who is not just the director of arguably the most successful Hindi film ever ("Sholay"), but also a prominent spokesperson of the film industry and someone who genuinely cares for the Indian film industry.

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