New Delhi: The country’s highest civilian honours Padma Awards have been announced. For her valuable contributions to music, renowned veteran playback singer Suman Kalyanpur (85) has been conferred with Padma Vibhushan. Today, she is celebrating her 86th birthday.
In her exclusive message in Marathi to this journalist (Shri Ram Shaw), an elated Suman Kalyanpur said, “The Padma Awards have been announced on the aupicious occasion of Republic Day in the golden jubilee year of India’s Independence. I am really overwhelmed. It is my birthday today (28th January). My fans, who love my songs, have preserved my songs in their hearts. Even after a long gap, they have not forgotten me. I feel, I am really lucky. When the hope of all awards dimed, at the same time the Government of India honored me for my singing service. I am contented.”
“भारतीय स्वातंत्र्याच्या सुवर्ण महोत्सवी वर्षात मला हा पुरस्कार प्रजासत्ताक दिनाच्या पूर्वसंध्येला जाहीर झाला.मी खरंच भारावून गेले आहे.याच महिन्यात 28 तारखेला माझा वाढदिवस असतो.माझ्या गाण्यावर प्रेम करणाऱ्या रसिकांनी माझं गाणं हृदयात जपून ठेवलं.खूप मोठ्या अंतराला नंतरही त्यांना माझा विसर पडला नाही ,हे माझं खरंच सुदैव आहे असं मला वाटतं.जेंव्हा सर्व पुरस्कारांची आस संपते,त्याच वेळी भारत सरकारने माझ्या गान सेवेचा सन्मान केला ,मी भरुन पावले.”
Extending her heartfelt greetings and best wishes to “Velvet Voice” Suman Kalyanpur on her birthday, globally renowned singer Shashika Mooruth shared her fond memories, “I tried so much to meet Sumanji in the past. I believe she prefers her isolation that I respected. I played a game with a few friends years ago. I called them to guess the singer and no one recognised her mellifluous voice....everyone thought it was Lataji!”
Shashika added, “Na tum hamein jaano, Na hum tumhein jaane” forever resonates in my home along with many other gems she rendered. Recipient of Padma Bhushan this year, long overdue I feel, but her honey, sweet voice has won accolades over generations and will continue to do so. Cannot think much...what more to say?”
Suman Kalyanpur was born as Suman Hemmadi on 28 January 1937 in Dhaka (now in Bangladesh). She is one of the best-known and most respected playback singers in India. Her voice was often mistaken to be that of Lata Mangeshkar. Her career started in 1954 and she was very popular singer in the 1960s and 1970s. She recorded songs for movies in several languages besides Hindi, Marathi, Assamese, Gujarati, Kannada, Maithili, Bhojpuri, Rajasthani, Bengali, Odia and Punjabi. She is considered among the popular singers of her prime time.
Her father Shankar Rao Hemadi hailed from a Saraswat Brahmin family belonging to Mangalore. Hemmadi is a village in Kundapur Taluk of Udupi District, Karnataka. He served on a top post in the Central Bank of India and was posted to Dhaka for a very long period. Apart from father and mother Seeta Hemmadi, there were 5 daughters and one son in the family with Suman being the eldest among her siblings. In 1943, her family moved to Mumbai, where she received her musical training.
Suman had always been interested in painting and music. After completing schooling from Mumbai’s famed St. Columba High School, she got admission in the prestigious Sir J. J. School of Arts for further studies in painting. Simultaneously, she started learning classical vocal from Pune's Prabhat Films’ music director and a close family friend, Pandit Keshav Rao Bhole. According to Suman, initially singing was just hobby to her but gradually her interest in music increased and she started learning it professionally from Ustad Khan, Abdul Rehman Khan and Guruji Master Navrang. Suman’s younger sister Shyama Hemmady was also a singer.
Suman Hemmady married a Mumbai-based businessman Ramanand Kalyanpur in the 1958 and thus, became Suman Kalyanpur from Suman Hemmady. He accompanied her for every recording session after her marriage. She has a daughter named Charul Agny who is settled in the United States after marriage. Her grand daughter Aaishanni Agny returned to India and opened an NGO in Mumbai in her grand mother’s name.
For the year 2023, the President has approved conferment of 106 Padma Awards including 3 duo cases (in a duo case, the Award is counted as one) as per list below. The list comprises 6 Padma Vibhushan, 9 Padma Bhushan and 91 Padma Shri Awards. 19 of the awardees are women and the list also includes 2 persons from the category of Foreigners/NRI/PIO/OCI and 7 Posthumous awardees.
Padma Awards – one of the highest civilian Awards of the country, are conferred in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. The Awards are given in various disciplines/ fields of activities, viz.- art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc. ‘Padma Vibhushan’ is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service; ‘Padma Bhushan’ for distinguished service of high order and ‘Padma Shri’ for distinguished service in any field. The awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day every year. These Awards are conferred by the President of India at ceremonial functions which are held at Rashtrapati Bhawan usually around March/ April every year.