Padma Awards are one of the highest civilian Awards of the country, bestowed of a few outstanding and exceptional personalities every year by the Indian Government. The awards are conferred in three categories – Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri and awarded for some distinguished work in fields like art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, music etc. The awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day every year.

Keeping with the tradition, the list of awardees for Padma Awards 2017 was disclosed today! And popular Bollywood singer Anuradha Paudwal is one of the Padma Shri recipients in the Art-Music category. The songstress who has rendered more than 6000 songs in Hindi language alone, was taken aback when she heard the news! Sharing her joy exclusively with India.com, the singer said, “It is a happy surprise! I am overjoyed! It is a great feeling to know that I am one of the few celebrated people who are bestowed with his great honour.”

The singer, who has mesmerized us with songs in films like Dil, Sadak, Aashiqui, Saajan, Dil Hai Ki Maanta Nahin and many more, said that she wasn’t expecting to be nominated for the award, let alone winning! “The Padma Shri award comes at a times when I was I least expecting it. It is a beautiful feeling,” said the singer and the sense of happiness and excitement in her voice couldn’t be missed! (ALSO READ: Padma Awards 2017 Winners List: Virat Kohli, chef Sanjeev Kapoor, Sakshi Malik get Padma Shri; MM Joshi, Sharad Pawar get Padma Vibhushan)

Anuradha Paudwal was immensely elated for the recognition and celebration of her body of work. “When your work is recognized at that level, it makes all the difference! While there are so many awards and I have won a few myself, Padma award is special! It has its own charm,” said the singing legend who has been conferred with a National Film Award, four Filmfare Awards and Odisha State Film Award and many nominations for her exceptional singing talent.

There was a time when Anuradha Paudwal ruled the Bollywood film industry! She was always seen as a strong contender to the Mangeshkar sisters Lata and Asha Bhosle. In fact, while Paudwal was alsways pitting against them, she was also considered to be the only one gifted and talented enough to dethrone the Mangeshkars. However, Paudwal shifted her focus from film music to devotional albums. But she hasn’t ruled out getting into the record studio and crooning a Bollywood number again. “I haven’t resigned from singing Hindi film songs. They are still very popular with my fans and I sing them during my live shows and programmes,” said the singer acknowledging that she has had fans telling her that they have missed listening to her voice in films.

Paudwal, who has rendered her voice to beautiful lines penned by some much loved lyricists like Majrooh Sultanpuri, Anand Bakshi, Gulzar, Javed Akhtar, Sameer and Sayeed Quadri says that she believes in a ‘never say never’ attitude. “Let’s hope something interesting comes up in Bollywood soon,” she signed off.

In her career, Padma Shri Anuradha Paudwal has had the opportunity to work with music directors like SD and RD Burman, Laxmikant–Pyarelal, Rajesh Roshan, Nadeem-Shravan, Jatin Lalit, A. R. Rahman, Anu Malik, Vishal Bhardwaj, Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy, Himesh Reshammiya, Aadesh Shrivastava, Sajid-Wajid, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and Ajay-Atul amognst others.

The awardees of the Padma Awards 2017 will be conferred the honour by the President of India at ceremonial functions held at Rashtrapati Bhawan usually around March/ April.