'Getting Padma Shri a dream come true'
After being conferred India's fourth highest civilian award Padma Shri, Bollywood playback singer Udit Narayan Monday said it is a dream come true for him.
"I can't express my feelings. It is like a dream come true for me. After receiving three national awards for Lagaan,Zindagi Khoobsurat Hai and Swades, this is like the highest honour for me. I am feeling really very happy," Udit told IANS on telephone from Mumbai.
Narayan, who has voiced hit numbers like Pehla nasha, Jadoo teri nazar, Mehndi laga ke rakhna, Dil to pagal hai among several others, said he is receiving the award "just because of God's grace, the blessings of my parents, love of my wife and son and fans and 30 years of struggle".
"I am so glad that the government appreciates honesty and hard work by its countrymen with such profound respect as the Padma Shri," he added.
Once the Padma Shri award winners' list was out, there were questions on whether Udit was a citizen of India or Nepal.
"They are out to malign me and stop me from being given the recognition that the government thinks I deserve by saying I am not an Indian. They say I was born in Nepal, but that's completely false. I was born in a village called Baisi on the Supaul district of Bihar in 1955 at my maternal grandparents' home," Udit had said in a recent interview with IANS.
Apart from the singer, yesteryears' dancing queen Helen, Bollywood diva Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, action star Akshay Kumar, music maestro Hridyanath Mangeshkar, singer Kumar Sanu, ghazal singer Penaz Masani and radio presenter-programmer Ameen Sayani will also be receiving the Padma Shri awards this year.
Penaz Masani said: "I am deeply humbled. So much of responsibility comes over the shoulders when someone is awarded with such honour as a Padma Shri. I think of all the years and my master Madhurani ji from whom I started learning ghazal singing in 1981. It seems just like yesterday that I started my career with ghazals."
Indian broadcasting legend Ameen Sayani, who has mesmerised old and young alike with his golden voice, said: "I am very happy. It's a very prestigious award. I actually pray that this will perhaps help me further promote a national project that I was trying to do to help and improve communication in all aspects of life in our country."