Renowned actor Naseeruddin Shah was on Saturday named the recipient of the coveted Aditya Vikram Birla Kalshikhar Puraskar, at the Sangit Kala Kendra Awards virtual function.
Alongside, two emerging stars in the firmament of theatrics — Neel Choudhary and Irawati Karnik — were awarded the Aditya Vikram Birla Kalakiran Puraskars. The gathering was attended by Kumar Mangalam Birla, Neerja Birla, and other members of the extended Aditya Birla family.
Addressing the gathering, Rajashree Birla, president of the Sangit Kala Kendra, stated, "Today we rejoice the spirit of our Founder President, Aditya Vikram Birla, and his love for the performing arts. As you know, the Sangit Kala Kendra’s ‘Aditya Vikram Birla, Kalashikhar Puraskar’ and the ‘Kalakiran Puraskars’ were instituted in 1996 as a befitting memorial to Mr Birla and through it, create a significant pathway, for a singular recognition, of exemplary talent, in this domain".
She further added, "Theatre is the central theme for this year’s awards. A few of you may recount Aditya-ji's love of the theatre and his donning the mantle of an actor in the two plays — Prakat Bhaye Nandlala and Kaaya Kalap — under the banner of Sangit Kala Kendra.
"At a personal level, both Adityaji and I loved watching plays and films. A lot of our Sunday evenings were thus spent. Among our favourite actors was Mr Naseeruddin Shah, whom we watched in theatres and on screen."
Rajashree Birla was all in praises for Naseeruddin Shah's illustrious career and averred, "Mr Naseeruddin Shah, upon whom, the Kalashikhar Puraskar is to be conferred today, is an iconic actor. His breakthrough roles have hit both the screen and the theatre, for now over 40 years. The films and the theatre roles, still keep rolling and we see him do the most challenging roles with amazing ease, getting into the skin of the character. Having you receive this award is truly a fulfilling moment for all of us at Sangit Kala Kendra. We respect you and we admire you".
She fondly recalled the late Pandit Jasraj and observed, "On this occasion, I would like to say a few words, as a tribute to Pandit Jasraj-ji, who was very close to our family and the Sangit Kala Kendra. Pandit Jasraji’s image looms large in the global world of classical, mystical music. In this field, he was an ambassador par excellence, unparalleled. So, it is very apt that the ‘Indian Astronautical Union’ has named a planet after Pandit Jasraj-ji, for a life dedicated to music. With this, Pandit-ji is the first global Indian to join the galaxy of immortal composers, such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Pavarotti. We are immensely proud of Pandit-ji".
Mrs. Birla congratulated emerging stars Neel Choudhary and Irawati Karnik. With great joy, she further added, "Ever so often, I meet talent from various fields, be it dance, or classical music, or painting, in fact, any of the performing arts. And they admit that to get the ‘Aditya Birla Kala Kiran Puraskar’ would be a dream come true. It fills us with joy and pride. I am sure you feel, so too. We owe all of this to having a stellar panel of judges, year in and year out. Their contribution to the process of evaluation has been invaluable. They lend honesty and heft. This year our distinguished panel of judges comprised of Nadira Babbar, Sanjna Kapoor, Akash Khurana, Sunil Shanbagh, and Chhaya Ganguly".
She concluded by thanking the Judges and the Sangit Kala members. Shaan and Neeti Mohan excelled in their musical performances.