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Padma discordant note

Janaki

Thiruvananthapuram, Jan. 27: Playback singer S. Janaki has turned down the Padma Bhushan, with the 75-year-old suggesting the award had come too late in her career, spanning over half a century.

“I am happy they considered me for the honour and I won’t blame the government. But I’m not accepting it. I have been singing for 55 years now and in different languages. My works were widely appreciated. I never sang for awards but for fans,” Janaki, also called the nightingale of the south, said yesterday.

But she added, tongue in cheek: “Let the government give the Bharat Ratna if they so desire. Then I will accept it.”

The winner of four national awards voiced another grouse — a perceived disregard of artistes from the south in the Padma awards compared to their northern peers. “I am not just saying this for myself. There are many talented people in south India. They have not been recognised for their work. They should be recognised,” said Janaki, who has belted out over 20,000 songs in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi.

She crooned her way into Bollywood with Yaar bina chain kahan re, a Bappi Lahiri chartbuster from the 1985 movie Saheb, starring Anil Kapoor. Over 100 Hindi songs followed, many of them scored by Laxmikant Pyarelal, R.D. Burman, Ravindra Jain and .P. Nayyar.

Janaki’s son Murali Krishna echoed his mother. “It (the Padma) has come too late. She should have got it a long, long time ago,” he told PTI.