Veteran Punjabi Actress Nirmal Rishi receives Padma Shri Award

Nirmal Rishi, a renowned actress in Punjabi cinema and theatre, has been honoured with the prestigious Padma Shri award.

Veteran Punjabi Actress Nirmal Rishi receives Padma Shri Award - F

"Those were truly the golden years."

On the eve of the 75th Republic Day, the Padma Shri awards were announced.

This year, 110 personalities will receive the Padma Shri award, including two individuals from Punjab and four from Haryana.

Nirmal Rishi and Pran Sabharwal of Punjab have been honoured with the Padma Shri award for their unparalleled contributions to the arts.

Nirmal Rishi, a Punjabi film and television actress, is best known for her role as Gulabo Masi in her debut film, Long Da Lishkara (1983).

Born in 1943 in the village of Khiva Kalan in Mansa district, her parents were Baldev Krishna Rishi and Bachani Devi.

From her school days, she had a deep fondness for theatre.

She decided to become a physical education instructor and enrolled in Government College, Patiala for physical education.

Nirmal Rishi has acted in more than 60 films, including notable Punjabi films like Nikka Zaildar and The Great Sardar.

With a distinguished career spanning six decades in theatre and films, the legendary Nirmal Rishi, now 80, asserts that acting is not just a profession, but the essence of her life.

This year, she proudly received the prestigious Padma Shri award for her outstanding contribution to the world of Art, further cementing her deep connection to Punjab’s vibrant art and culture scene.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Nirmal Rishi said: “I’ve lost count of the plays I’ve been a part of.

“Stepping onto the stage has always felt like a cathartic moment.”

She earned the 2012 Sangeet Natak Akademi award for her exceptional acting skills.

Her artistic journey began under the mentorship of Punjab’s acclaimed theatre figures, Harpal and Neena Tiwana.

Nirmal fondly recalled: “They discovered my talent in mono acting in Rajasthani during my college days and imparted invaluable lessons about the art through hands-on experience.

“Workshops led by luminaries like Ebrahim Alkazi and Balwant Gargi provided us with fresh insights into the world of theatre. Those were truly the golden years.”


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She collaborated on nearly 50 plays with Tiwana, including notable productions like ‘Kabuli Wala,’ ‘Aate Ki Katori,’ and ‘Dug Dugi Payi Wajdi’ among others.

In films, Nirmal Rishi gained fame with her role as Gulabo Maasi in her debut movie Long Da Lishkara (1983).

She also enjoyed success in recent films such as Nikka Zaildar and its sequel, Nikka Zaildar 2.

Rishi enjoys playing emotional characters but also loves to experiment and surprise herself.

Nirmal Rishi also takes pleasure in training young talent, though she acknowledges the challenge of maintaining financial stability.

She laments that many talented actors have to switch to other mediums to earn their livelihood.

The Punjabi actress suggested: “More sponsors and no tax on theatre will really help theatre grow.”

The veteran actor has always maintained that while films provide her livelihood, theatre is her life.

Nirmal Rishi asserts that as long as she lives, she will continue acting.

Ravinder is a Journalism BA graduate. She has a strong passion for all things fashion, beauty, and lifestyle. She also likes to watch films, read books and travel.

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