Suresh Wadkar on Padma Shri honour: ‘I’m very happy, this was long awaited’
Meri awaaz hi meri pehchaan hai — this couldn’t ring truer than in the case of singer Suresh Wadkar. The youth of today might not exactly be aware of the legacy he has built over the last four decades, but chances are extremely high that you’ve heard some of his songs and loved them — Raat Ke Dhaai Baje (Kaminey; 2009), Tumse Milke Aisa Laga or Lagi Aaj Saawan (Parinda and Chandni respectively, both 1989) being the classics.
It takes us a few attempts to get through to the 64-year-old as he’s understandably busy, inundated with calls since being chosen as a Padma Shri recipient. “I got a call on Saturday afternoon from the Joint Secretary of the Home Ministry. I’m very happy, this was long awaited,” he says.
In fact, singer Sonu Nigam had tweeted in 2015, “Suresh Wadkar ji, the kindest human being, an epitome of sincerity and commitment, deserves a Padma award, for his lifetime service to music. As a teacher, Suresh ji gives 1,000 musically trained students per year, to India. It would be right to acknowledge such greatness.”
Wadkar shares, “For many years, Lata [Mangeshkar] ji and Usha ji, her sister, have been writing a letter for me and they’d send it to different people, like the President of India, and other higher authorities. In those letters, they’d write ‘Suresh Wadkar ko aapne abhi tak kaise door rakha hua hai, pehle se milna chahiye tha’. Ab Lata ji Bharat Ratna (hain), kisi ko bhi bol sakti hain na, she is above all these people. Sakshaat Saraswati agar likhti hain, toh usse bada award aapko waise bhi nahi mil sakta. Suresh Wadkar jaisi naacheez ke liye woh recommendation karti hain! I don’t know what the hassle was… But it’s okay, ‘der aaye, durust aaye’ bolte hain na.”
Over the years, Wadkar, who has a music school in Mumbai and the US, wasn’t just restricted to Bollywood music, but has come to be known as a legend in Marathi film and devotional music as well. How would he sum up his journey so far? “It’s been good. I didn’t struggle in the beginning, but after a certain time I had to. It’s because the whole time changed, the scene changed, people changed, those making and writing music changed…,” he adds.
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