Sandhya Mukherjee, also known as Sandhya Mukhopadhyay, a singing legend, turned down an offer of a Padma Shri award on Tuesday after being contacted by central government officials over the phone. Soumi Sengupta, Mukherjee’s daughter, said Mukherjee told a senior official who called from Delhi that she was not willing to be named a Padma Shri recipient after being contacted and asked for her consent to be named a Padma Shri in the Republic Day awards list.

“At 90 years old, with a singing profession crossing around eighty years, being picked for Padma Shri is disparaging for a vocalist of her height,” Sengupta said, as per the sources.

Padma Shri is more truly worthy of a junior artist than ‘Gitasree’ Sandhya Mukhopadhyay. Her family, as well as all fans of her music, are saddened, she further added.

A large number of netizens backed Mukherjee’s decision and took to Twitter to express their support.

Mukherjee’s frequent collaborator and highly praised singer and composer Hemanta Mukhopadhyay had also declined the Padma awards. Both the Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan were declined by the singer.

In Bengal, the renowned singer has long been regarded as a prima donna of music. Her collaborative effort with singer Hemanta Mukherjee has given the Bengali entertainment industry some timeless songs such as Ei Path Jadi Na Sesh Hoy, E Shudhu Ganer Din, Aaj Holi Khelbo Shyam, and Raag Je Tomar Mishti. Mukherjee has also performed for several Bollywood film music directors, including S D Burman, Anil Biswas, Madan Mohan, Roshan, and Salil Choudhary. In 2011, Sandhya  Mukherjee was granted the Banga Bibhushan, West Bengal’s highest civilian honour.

In 1970, she was nominated for a National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for her work on the films Jay Jayanti and Nishi Padma.

Meanwhile, veteran Bengali actor Victor Banerjee was honoured with the Padma Bhushan, the country’s third-highest civilian honour. Banerjee, 75, is well-known for her tasks with directors such as David Lean, Satyajit Ray, and Roman Polanski.

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