BENGALURU: A woman of strength who stood undaunted like a temple flag post — this is how senior Kannada actress Jayanthi described Parvathamma Rajkumar, wife of Kannada matinee idol Dr Rajkumar, who was by herself a producer, distributor and exhibitor and known to be the backbone of Rajkumar.
According to film historian Doddahulluru Rukkoji, who wrote two volumes on Rajkumar’s life, Parvathamma was a ‘film entrepreneur’ in Karnataka. Starting with ‘Trimurthi’ in 1975 starring Rajkumar, she produced landmark Kannada films with 35 of them running for over 100 days. These included ‘Vasantha Geetha’, ‘Haavina Hede’, ‘Nee Nanna Gellalare’, ‘Bhagyavantha’, ‘Hosa Belaku’, ‘Haalu Jenu’, ‘Chalisuva Modagalu’, ‘Kavirathna Kalidasa’, ‘Haalu Jenu’ and ‘Jeevana Chaitra’ to name a few.
Parvathamma played a big role in keeping her family intact and ran the household while simultaneously taking care of Rajkumar’s image on and off the screen. As yesteryear actress B Saroja Devi put it, “Rajkumar’s films were mostly based on novels and it was because of Parvathamma. She used to read a lot of novels and whatever she liked was discussed with Rajkumar and made into films.”
To everyone, Parvathamma was a fearless women with a strong will power. “I feel like I have lost my mother. She and Rajkumar were of great support to me,” said senior actor”Srinath.
Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce president Sa Ra Govindu credits his career to Parthavamma. “I come from the same place (Saligrama) as Parvathamma and that house has taken care of me over the last 30 years. Her death is certainly a big loss to Karnataka and Kannada film industry,” he said.
She was also the force behind the careers of her three sons Shivarajkumar, Raghavendra Rajkumar and Puneeth Rajkumar. She has two daughters, Lakshmi and Poornima, and three brothers — S A Chinne Gowda, S A Govindaraj and S A Srinivas.
Parvathamma was also instrumental in launching many leading ladies in Sandalwood like Sarita, Roopadevi, Malashree, Sudharani, Rakshita, Prema, Ramya and Anu Prabhakar to name a few. Roopadevi, who worked with Rajkumar in ‘Samayada Gombe’ and ‘Haalu Jenu’ among others, is
now settled in Hyderabad. She considers Parvathamma as her foster mother.
Rakshita, who made her debut in Puneeth Rajkumar’s film ‘Appu’, said, “She stood by me for my debut and she was the first one to say that Rakshita will do it, which meant so much to me.”
Bengaluru University had awarded a honorary doctorate to Parvathamma in recognition of her contribution to Kannada cinema.She was honoured with the Dadasaheb Phalke awards and various other awards by the Karnataka government including the State Film Awards and Kannada Rajyotsava award.
Parvathamma excelled in her studies and her paternal uncle wanted her to become a doctor. But she got married early. The reason why Parvathamma entered movie production and distribution was to protect her husband, says Rukkhoji.
“She had not ventured out of the house till Rajkumar crossed the 100 movies mark. Apparently, Parvatham ma learnt that the film industry people were taking advantage of Rajkumar’s innocence and decided to step in. She launched Vajreshwari Combines in 1975 and made meaningful films”, Rukkoji says.
A sister concern, Poornima Enterprises, is also into similar business.