Dr Rajkumar, the Kannada icon, had touched many lives when he was alive, and continues to do so to this day. For Suresh Babu and his brother P Kumar, the legend is a presence they live with every day. They have a collection of over 10,000 rare photos of Annavaru (as Rajkumar was fondly called), spanning 25 years. “After Annavaru’s death in 2007, we have painstakingly collected his old photos,” said Babu.
And to mark Dr Rajkumar’s birth anniversary on April 24, they are coming out with a calendar dedicated to him.“The calendar has 13 photos, one for each month and one for the cover, and it is themed around his films. His picture as Babruvahana, Arjuna’s son, is very rare,” said Babu.
The brothers run a photo frame store on BVK Iyengar Road, established in 1975. They have been coming out with Rajkumar calendars for four years, and they sell it at `60. “We want many people to buy the calendar and make space on their desktop,” said Babu.
Babu and Kumar visited Dr Rajkumar’s wife Parvathamma and presented her the first copy. They also met their son Puneeth Rajkumar. “Parvathamma was glad to see us reviving Annavaru’s memories through this calendar. She did not speak much. Puneeth, who saw the calendar, appreciated the design and the photos,” said Babu.
According to Babu, this year, nobody has come out with a Rajkumar calendar. “We were to bring this out in January but could not. However, we will release this on his birthday, on public demand.”The brothers have printed 5,000 copies, and are ready to print more if the demand increases.”The calendar will be available at the Rajkumar memorial. From next year, we hope to have a good marketing plan,” Babu said.
For the two, it all started with a photo from one of his films, Thayi Devaru, in which the maternal sentiment is captured with Dr Rajkumar bowing to M V Rajamma.”With that one photo our journey began. We travelled across the state to collect photos. Recently, I picked up some photos from a man in Kolar who was planning to give them away. Last week, I picked up photos from a store room in Mandya. They don’t know the value of such rare photos,” said Babu.The brothers don’t collect photos of any other actor. Rajkumar is their evergreen hero. “His photos sell more than God’s photos at our shop and so we consider him as our annadata. We earn our bread and butter from his photos,” said Babu.
Babu does not believe that memories of Annavaru, who died eight years ago, can fade away. “His photos sell to this day. Whoever comes and buys photos or calendars also discusses his life and films. I never get bored watching his movies,” he said.
Their shop is called Lakshmi Venkateshwara Photo Frames, but is popularly known as Rajkumar Photo Angadi.