You really didn’t expect Deepika Padukone to be conferred with a Padma award, did you? Not after her JNU visit for sure. This Republic Day, the Government in all its time-tested wisdom has decided to honour a self-consciously motley crew from the Indian entertainment industry with Padma Shris.
So there are the three K’s, Kangana Ranaut and Karan Johar (who can’t stand each other) and Ekta Kapoor whose television serials with titles beginning with the letter ‘K’ not-so-subtly redefined the home viewing space.
Karan Johar’s films from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai in 1998 to, ahem, Kalank and Good Newwz in 2019 revamped the old kitschy formula of massy entertainment with an urban tadka. He says he is humbled by the Padma Shri. Don’t let that façade of humility fool you. Karan believes in his own brand better than anyone else.
The sheer volume of work that Karan and Ekta have done makes them eligible for a Padma Shri (I guess!). By the way, does the Padma mean Karan has been forgiven for his naked partiality towards the Pakistani heart-throb Fawad Khan, now replaced by the suitably Indian Vijay Deverakonda in the producer-director’s range of favour.
As for Ms Ranaut, she has given one sterling performance after another, Panga where she plays a retired kabbaddi player on a comeback trail, being the latest. Not just the current government, we all love Kangana Ranaut and she richly deserves the honour.
Of course the fact that Kangana is a major fan of prime minister Narendra Modi, and lashes out at anyone who is seen to be anti-Government, does give her a kind of edge, don’t you think? I would love to hear Ms Padukone’s opinion on this.
Giving the Padma Shri to singer-musician Adnan Sami is a master-stroke. Adnan, who relinquished his Pakistani heritage to adopt Indian citizenship, is just the token presence the the government-sponsored awards need to make them look complete credible and versatile.
Adnan didn’t have to wait very long for the Indian government to recognise him. Sarita Joshi, the veteran Gujarati stage-television and film actress who has been working since the age of 6, is also on the list of Padma Shri winners this year.
Luckily unlike Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj, Sarita Joshi, 78, is still here to collect her award.
The Padma Shri for singer Suresh Wadkar is also richly deserved. A classical trained singer, his contribution to enriching Hindi film songs with his knowledge of the ragas, is commendable. It is ironical that in the list of Padma Shri winners from the entertainment world this year, two out of five names are from the music industry at a time when music in cinema is at its lowest ebb.