Happy to be chosen for award: Pandit Bimsen Joshi

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Pune, Nov 5 (UNI) Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, the jewel of Indian classical music, who has been chosen for the country's highest civilian award 'Bharat Ratna' by the Union Government, today said he was very happy to be bestowed with the honour.

The 86-year-old vocalist, who belongs to the 'Kirana Gharana', has an illustrious career spanning more than seven decades. He was chosen for the award yesterday.

''This is the first time that 'Kirana Gharana' has gained the recognition,'' he remarked while talking to UNI.

Remembering his late wife Vatsala, who had helped him achieve this great height in the field of Hindustani classical music, Pandit Joshi said, ''Vatsala had a deep liking for music and she always supported me in the long singing career.'' He said he missed her a lot on this joyous ocassion.

Asked about the present-day music, Panditji said, ''once upon a time, we used to walk ten miles to hear three minutes of recording, such was the dedication in the past. But, it is lacking today.'' Panditji's younger son, Jayant, said the entire family was delighted by the news.

''My father deserves it. It should have come earlier, but nevertheless we are very happy,'' he said.

Maestro's daugther-in-law Shilpa, who was seen greeting a large number of Panditji's well-wishers and music lovers in their residence at Navi Peth here, said, ''This is a great recognition for his contribution to the Indian classical music.'' Maharashtra Governer S C Jamir and Shiv Sena working president Uddhav Thackeray congratulated Panditji on phone from Mumbai for being selected for this prestigious award.

City MP Suresh Kalmadi and Mayor Rajlaxmi Bhosale also visited his residence to greet him, Ms Shilpa added.

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