Since their childhood, they have been watching his movies and still continue to do so be it on television or in the theatres. They have collectively seen 200 of his films out of the 206 that he has worked in. But what makes them stand apart from the many fans of the legendary Kannada actor Dr Raj Kumar is their passionate collection of about 12,000 rare photographs, black and white as well as colour.
Two brothers from Bangalore, P Kumar and Babu have such a huge collection of the Kannada thespian that film producers and directors descend on them regularly to make use of their rare collection. In fact, the siblings are considered to be successful entrepreneurs in their chosen field for more than three decades now.
Starting from the days of black and white, the brothers began their collection from Bedara Kannappa (Rajkumar’s first film) till Shabdavedhi which was his last film. Elaborating on their passion, 45-year-old Kumar said, “I have been his fan since my childhood. It has always been an emotional moment for me to watch his movies and also collect his pictures. So far, we have both collected more than 12,000 pictures of this renowned actor”.
While 35 year old Babu added, "Dr Rajkumar, who was the hero of the longest running Kannada film Bangarada Manushya, was my favourite film personality. I wholeheartedly watched all his films on the very first day of its release. I was pretty crazy about him and even today on April 24th, we celebrate his birthday with great joy and pleasure. On this day, we display all his images in our shop.”
A visit to their shop at BVK Iyengar Road clearly demonstrates their passion which includes five albums of Natasarvabhouma, who acted in movies like Kasturi Nivasa, Prathidvani, Premada Kanike, Eradu Kanasu and Kaasidre Kailasa. Their unique acquisition also includes a group photo of Dr Raj and Narasimharaju when both the actors had enacted in a Kannada drama. Apart from this, the brothers have also been bringing out an annual calendar with his choicest photos every year.
“We usually display 50 photographs at our shop, out of which two to three are sold every day. But during the month of April, we do good business and sell 8 to 10 photographs everyday. Film directors Srikanth and Chandan, actors Punith Rajkumar, Kishore, Parvathamma Rajkumar and producer Ramu have visited our shop and this is usually when they need some rare photos for their shooting. The media houses too approach us for their publications especially if they are coming out with books on Raj”, says Kumar, the eldest brother.
Amidst their busy and commercial schedule, the duo are cheerful, jovial and friendly and whoever comes to meet them are treated with warm regards and affection. The enthusiastic Babu further explained, “All our family members are Rajkumar fans. His influence is so deep that we speak Kannada at home even though Telugu is our mother tongue”.
Recently, the siblings have also added albums of other Kannada film actors like Vishnuvardhan, Ambarish, Shankar Nag, Prabhakar, Ananth Nag and Lakshmi to their unique collection.
When prodded further on their collection methods, they said, “Whenever we come to know about the disposal or scrapping of archival items, we immediately rush to that place. We need to pick up the pictures from a whole lot of debris and it is not an easy task as it has to be restored later. Apart from that, many of our friends and relatives too have donated these pictures. Sometimes, we have to shell out any amount of money for buying his pictures.”
Leading a happy and contented life today, the brothers sign off, “Our ambition is to collect more than a lakh photos of the Kannada Kanteerava and also exhibit it in India and other countries.”