Glad to be recognised for my music while I'm still alive: Chhannulal Mishra on Padma Vibhushan

Mona Parthsarathi

New Delhi, Jan 28 (PTI) Dedicating his Padma Vibhushan to Lord Shiva, Hindustani classical vocalist Chhannulal Mishra says the government honour may have come late but it is special as it has come during his lifetime.

The vocalist, whose renditions of 'Khele masaane me holi digambar', 'Barsan laagi badareeya' and 'Laage tose nain' are audience favourites, said he was surprised to see his name among the Padma awardees.

Mishra, who had proposed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's name during 2014 Lok Sabha elections, said the present government has a positive attitude towards traditional music.

'The honour may have come late but I have no complaints. I got it late in life but at least I got it while I'm still alive. I am 85 now. I have no idea how long I'm going to live. It is a big deal that I got this award in my lifetime,' Mishra told PTI Bhasha in an interview.

Terming the Padma Vibhushan a milestone in his career, Mishra added, 'This is a huge recognition because after this there is only Bharat Ratna. I am happy the government of India has recognised my contribution towards music.' Mishra, who belongs to the Kirana gharana of music, has spent his life in Varanasi, a city he considers his spiritual anchor. 'I dedicate this award to my guru, Lord Shiva. I dedicate this to the country. I have lived in the city throughout my life, never changing my base though I was called to places such as the US, Mumbai and Kolkata.

'Kashi is home to lord Shiva and as the saying goes, 'be content with whatever you get but never think of leaving 'Vishwanath Darbar',' Mishra said.

Varanasi has given India music legends such as Bharat Ratna recipients Pandit Ravi Shankar (sitar) and Ustad Bismillah Khan (shehnai). Also in the list are Padma Vibhushan awardees, thumri queen Girija Devi, kathak exponent Birju Maharaj, tabla player Kishan Maharaj and Ravi Shankar's elder brother, dancer Uday Shankar.

Asked whether he had an unfulfilled wish, Mishra said he was content.

He, however, hopes for an art centre in Varanasi to preserve the tradition of classical music that has always been synonymous with the city.

'There is no place where classical music can be taught in the city. There should be a space for that. I don't want anything for me but it would be good if there is an effort to promote city artistes and musicians. I have achieved whatever I wanted to but those who are still struggling for recognition, should get support,' he said.

The others named for this year's Padma Vibhushan are former union ministers Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and George Fernandes, Olympian boxer Mary Kom, former Mauritius prime minister Anerood Jugnauth and Vishveshateertha Swamiji Sri Pejavara Adhokhaja Matha Udupi. PTI MJ BK BK MIN MIN