In the annual tradition, the Government of India today announced its ‘Padma’ awards recipients.

And the nine Padma Vibhushan recipients, Padma Vibhushan is India’s second highest civilian honour, include two prominent faces of the Indian film industry or the Hindi language film industry – Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan.

And these two names come with a first – before them, no other actor from the Hindi films had been conferred India’s second most prestigious civilian decoration.

Interestingly, the 2012 Padma Vibhushan decision had seen controversy when an RTI reply revealed that these two names – Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan – were in the initial list of 37 names of the search committee but were not in the shortlist of 20 sent to the award committee.

Before 2015, though India recognized its artists including those from the entertainment industry, very few came from the mainstream entertainment industry (to say, mass entertainment), and certainly none from the class of actors who drive the focus of the world’s largest film industry – the Hindi cinema of the Mumbai based film industry.

An analysis into the Padma Vibhushan awardees so far, from 1954 when the awards were given the first time, returns with 55 awardees recognized for their contribution in ‘Art’.

And just eight of these are from the ‘craft of cinema-making – V. Shantaram, Satyajit Ray, Lata Mangeshkar, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Asha Bhosle, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Zohra Sehgal and Akkineni Nageshwara Rao.

On further narrowing down the list, we see that only five have been from or having association with the Hindi language film industry – actor, filmmaker and director V. Shantaram, director Hrishikesh Mukherjee, singers and sisters Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle and actor and choreographer Zohra Sehgal.

All others come from the fields of art like classical music, classical dances, fine arts and paintings and literature.

For the fields from the ‘craft of cinema-making’, Bharat Ratna does give better comparative results.

Since its inception in 1954, Bharat Ratna has been conferred on 45 individuals so far including three from the ‘art of cinema-making’ – Satyajit Ray, M. G. Ramachandran (actor-turned politicians and Tamil Nadu’s chief ministers) and Lata Mangeshkar while Padma Vibhushan has been conferred on over 300 people with just eight names to count.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–