**New Delhi/Bhubaneswar: ** President of India Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday conferred prestigious Padma Shri award on four personalities hailing from Odisha at a special function in the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
The fourth highest civilian award of the nation was given away to eminent Odissi danseuse Aruna Mohanty, veteran cine star and director Sadhu Meher, noted Sambalpuri folk singer Jitendriya Haripal and renowned physician Dr Mukut Minz.
The coveted Padma Shri Award was announced on the eve of Republic Day this year.
While Dr Mukut Minz is a renowned renal transplant surgeon, Sadhu Meher is a noted film actor, director as well as producer, Jitendria Haripal is a globally popular Sambalpuri song ‘Rangabati’ fame singer and Aruna Mohanty is an eminent Odissi dance exponent.
Notably, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had heaped all praises on Odia doctor Dr Mukut Minz for conducting successful kidney transplant on her at the All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on December 10 last year.
Dr Minz is the incumbent Director, Transplant Surgery, at Fortis Hospital in Mohali. He also worked as the head of the department (HOD) of renal transplant surgery at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER).
After completing his MBBS from the erstwhile VSS Medical College and Hospital, Burla (Sambalpur University), he pursued his MS in General Surgery from PGIMER, Chandigarh.
In recognition of his exemplary work in the field of transplantation, the Sundargarh-born doctor has already been honoured with Odisha Gaurav Samman in 2012.
On the other hand, noted thespian Sadhu Meher has worked with internationally-acclaimed film directors Satyajit Ray, Shyam Benegal, Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Mrinal Sen and Tapan Sinha.
Veteran actor Meher has already carved a niche in both the Bollywood and Odia movies.
He is best remembered for his remarkable roles in ‘Ankur’, ‘Mrigaya’ and ‘Bhuvan Shome’.
He has already bagged National Film Award for Best Actor for his debut film ‘Ankur’.
Globally popular Sambalpuri song ‘Rangabati’ fame singer Jitendria Haripal has also been selected to receive the prestigious Padma Shri Award.
He is most popularly known for his unique voice. He sang this duet song with his female co-singer Krishna Patel.
He has sung over 1000 songs and regarded as a top exponent of Kosli language (or Sambalpuri) song. He has shared the stage with other leading artists of Odisha, including former Chief Minister Giridhar Gamang, who is himself a fine musician.
Haripal is from the Dalit community in the western Odisha city of Sambalpur.
He is a school dropout and has never taken formal training for songs. He has borrowed this skill from his father Mandhata Haripal, who was a talented musician himself.
He started his career as a singer in All India Radio (AIR), Sambalpur in 1971 and worked as a “Senior B High” grade artist. In the 1970s, he became popular because of the ‘Rangabati’ song.
Although he rose to fame because of ‘Rangabati’ (in chaste Sambalpuri dialect), he did not confine himself to only Sambalpuri folk music. He is a versatile musician, who understands and sings folk songs of various dialect such as Bhojpuri, Odia, Chattisgarhi and Dhakia Bengali.
A protégé of noted Guru Gangadhar Pradhan, Padma Shri awardee Aruna Mohanty, especially, excels in the ‘abhinaya’ aspect of the famous classical dance of Odissi. The perfect blend of ‘bhava’ (feelings), ‘bhangi’ (expressions), ‘taala’ (rhythm) and ‘abhinaya’ (acts) radiate from her mesmerising performances.
Having her schooling in the Orissa Dance Academy (ODA), she has now grown into a prized performer, teacher, choreographer and administrator.
Many awards and accolades to her credit are the Mahari Award (1997), Sanjukta Panigrahi Memorial National Award (2001), Fellowship by Ministry of HRD, Government of India and the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Puraskar Award in 2010.
Being a globe-trotter, she has presented both solo and group presentations besides workshops and lectures.
She was a member of the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi, and now serves as the incumbent vice-president of the Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi.