BENGALURU: Kannada thespian Dr Rajkumar carved a niche for himself by acting in over 206 films. A hard-core Kannadiga, Dr Raj is one among those superstars who did not hop on to the other film industries, unlike his contemporaries, and stuck strictly to doing Kannada films. Despite this, he was able to win over the hearts of hundreds of non-Kannadiga fans. City Express talks to non-Kannadiga Dr Rajkumar fans about how the legendary actor was introduced to them and their love towards him.
Chennai-based Ranganayaki was awestruck when she saw Dr Raj at AVM Studios. “It was during late 50s. We used to stay near AVM and my husband and I used to take a walk by the studios hoping to see one of those yesteryear actors. One day, I saw this tall, fair man, who was about to board his car and was having a conversation with someone. I was bowled over by his looks. No Tamil or Telugu actor of that time was this handsome, I felt. When asked around, they told me that it was Kannada actor Rajkumar. Till then, I had no idea about him. But after that, every time I visited my sister in Bangalore, I used to drag her to his films. I did not know Kannada and my sister would translate it for me. I still get goosebumps when I see him on the big screen. Even today I was watching his Kasturi Nivasa and now, thank god for subtitles.”
Mumbai-based Deepika hopes to visit Bengaluru some day and spend some good time at Dr Rajkumar Samadhi because she couldn’t meet him when he was alive. “My parents and my grandfather were a big fan of Rajkumar. Though we were based in Mumbai, my first film in theatre was Aakasmika. I loved his diction; the way he pronounces every word so perfectly. It was because of him that I learnt Kannada despite being in Mumbai. I used to eagerly wait for his live programmes because that was where I could see the real Raj – a man with no fancy clothes but with a white shirt and dhoti. I’m also yet to watch Shabdavedi, and that’s the only movie I’ve missed,” she says.
Vinod Reddy recalls how his grandmother did not eat for a week when Dr Raj died. Coming from a Telugu-speaking family, Reddy grew up watching Rajkumar, literally! “Back then he used to visit Mysuru a lot. I was in my school when I saw him shooting for Haavina Hede in one of those famous circles in Mysuru. Post this, most of his films were being shot at Mysuru and our friends used to give a tip-off about his visit. We used to bunk school and go watch his film shooting. After spotting us on a few occasions, he called us, a group of friends, and spoke to us for a while. What a simple man! Later, we went on to bond so well. I even invited him to my wedding,” Reddy says.
UP-based Hemanth was introduced to Dr Raj by one of his colleagues. “The first question I asked him was ‘Dude, why was he not in Bollywood?’ He then explained to me about the late actor’s love for Kannada language and my respect towards the actor-increased manifold. I love his voice and sometimes you can spot me in the bathroom singing his Huttidare Kananda Naadalli Huttabeku,” he says. Hemanth hopes that some day he will be able to watch all 206 films.
Cab driver Teju Naik, who is from Pune, was switching radio channels in his cab when he stumbled upon the Haalu Jenu title song. “There was something about that
song that struck me. I listened to the entire song, despite not knowing the language. There was some kind of magic in that voice that can soothe the soul. I could pick up only two words from the song – Haalu-Jenu – and with my accent it sounded wired. None of my colleagues could help me when I hummed it to find out about the singer. Later, when it was played on radio again, I was recorded it in my phone and took a friend’s help to crack it! Ah! Dr Rajkumar, whatta voice! I still listen to his songs, only his songs because his voice gives me some strength and solace. May be someday I will watch his film as well.