This page relates to the Kannada actor, Rajkumar; for other uses see Raj Kumar.
Rajkumar ‌
ರಾಜ್ ಕುಮಾರ್

Rajkumar at the age of 64
Born Singanalluru Puttaswamayya Muthuraju
24 April 1929(1929-04-24)[1]
Singanallur, Kollegal Taluk, Chamarajanagara District[2][3]
Died 12 April 2006(2006-04-12) (aged 76)
Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
Monuments Kanteerava Studios[4]
Occupation Actor, singer
Years active 1954 – 2005
Title Honorary doctorate from Mysore University[5]
Political movement Gokak agitation[6]
Spouse Parvathamma Rajkumar
Children Shivrajkumar
Puneet Rajkumar
Raghavendra Rajkumar

Rajkumar (Kannada: ರಾಜ್ ಕುಮಾರ್), born as Singanalluru Puttaswamayya Muthuraju (Kannada: ಸಿಂಗಾನಲ್ಲೂರು ಪುಟ್ಟಸ್ವಾಮಯ್ಯ ಮುತ್ತುರಾಜು) (24 April 1929 – 12 April 2006)[1] was a popular actor and singer in the Kannada film industry. Having acted in more than 200 Kannada movies, he worked primarily in Karnataka and is considered a cultural icon of Kannada.[8][9]

Rajkumar entered the film industry at the age of eight and got his first break as a lead in the 1954-film Bedara Kannappa and went on to work in over 220 films.[10] Born in Singanallur of Coimbatore,[2][3] Madras Presidency (presently in Chamarajnagar District of Karnataka), he was brought up in Dodda Gajanur—a place that he used to visit often.[11] At the age of 71, it was here that he was kidnapped by forest brigand Veerappan until a 108-day ordeal when he was released.[12] Five years after which he died of cardiac arrest at his residence in Bengaluru.[13]

He was often referred to as Rajanna, Natasarvabhouma (emperor of acting),[14] Gaana Gandharva (singer in the court of Gods), and was hugely popular in Karnataka, where he was also known as Annavru (meaning "beloved elder brother").[10] Of his fans, he said, "I don't know whether I will ever see God. But for me all my fans are my Gods."[15][16] He is a recipient of nine Karnataka State Film Awards, 10 South Filmfare Awards, an Honorary Doctorate,[17] the Padma Bhushan,[18] two National Film Awards – a Dadasaheb Phalke Award[17] and National Film Award for Best Playback Singer.[19]


Early life

Raj Kumar was born on April 24, 1929 at Gajanur, Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border[1] of the Princely Mysore State (now in Erode District, Tamilnadu India).[20][21] His mother tongue was Kannada.[22] His father, Singanalluru Puttaswamayya, was an impoverished theatre-artist[10] who was widely popular for portraying powerful roles like Kamsa, Ravana and Hiranyakashipu. His mother's name was Lakshmamma. Rajkumar dropped out of school at the age of 8 after having discovered by a movie producer, and played minor characters until he was 25 when he played his first lead role.[10] Originally, he was named Mutturaju after the Lord Muthathi Raya, which is a temple deity located in Muttatti of Malavalli Taluk, Mandya district, Karnataka.[23]

Film career


A painting of Rajkumar on a street board in Bengaluru

Rajkumar started his career as a theater artist with his father in a troupe led by the legendary Gubbi Veeranna.[24] It was here that Rajkumar honed his acting and singing skills with Bedara Kannappa, a 1954 Kannada movie, marked his entry into the film world. This movie was directed by H L N Simha, who christened him "Rajkumar."[24] Rajkumar would use the same name for the rest of his life. He later forayed into film production with the hugely popular Ranadheera Kanteerava, which he produced. This movie, which was made exclusively with technicians from Karnataka, also marked the beginning of full-fledged film-making in Karnataka. The famous song Shivappa Kaayo Tande originated in his first movie.

Rajkumar acted only in Kannada movies throughout his life. Only one movie Kalahasti Mahatyam was released in Telugu with voice dubbing of the Kannada film Bedara Kannappa.[25] In his lifetime, Rajkumar acted in 206 Kannada movies, excluding guest appearances. He owned a film production company called Vajreshwari Production, which produces films under the banner of Dakshayani Combines. Bhagyada Bagilu was his 100th movie and Devatha Manushya was his 200th movie.

His character depictions ranged from lovers to double and triple roles, from action and mythological characters to portrayals of contemporary social causes in a career spanning over five decades and with remarkable box-office success.[10] Rajkumar along with his contemporaries Udaya Kumar and Kalyan Kumar were popular as “Kumara Thrayaru” of the Kannada cinema. He has acted in 36 films with Udaya Kumar and 5 films with Kalyan Kumar over the course of his career.[26] Many of his films were of epic proportions and the costumes were elaborate where Rajkumar played each role with aplomb. The films presented a populist version of Karnataka's history, focusing primarily on the southern kingdoms from the Pallava period to the Vijayanagara empire and later to the intrigue and mystery of the Mysore royalty.[27]

He produced and starred in Kaviratna Kalidasa and Shankar Guru. He produced movies based on famous Kannada novels and made many movies against perceived social evils, such as Shabdavedi, which addressed drug abuse.[28] He acted with many popular heroines in southern Indian cinema, such as Kannada's Jayanti (in over 32 films),[5] Pandaribai (18 films), Leelavathi (38 films), Bharati (25 films), Kalpana (actress) (19 films), Aarathi (13 films), B. Saroja Devi (10 films), Harini (8 films), Madhavi (6 films), Manjula (7 films), Jayamala (6 films), Lakshmi (5 films), Geetha (5 films), Saritha (5 films), Jayaprada (4 films) and others from neighbouring states.[29] The Hindi actress Rekha made her debut as heroine in the film Goadalli CID 999 with Rajkumar. He acted under many directors of south Indian cinema, from B.R. Pantulu and Puttanna Kanagal to Shankar Nag and Nagabharana. He was known for only acting in Kannada movies,[30] even though he got many offers from different movie industries in India.

"If an actor like Dr. Rajkumar were there in Bollywood, we would have been nowhere."

- Amitabh Bachchan on Rajkumar[31]

Rajkumar was the first actor in Kannada cinema to enact a role which resembled James Bond; his first such movie was Jedara Bale in 1968.[32] Later he acted in other Bond movies such as Operation Jackpotnalli CID 999, Goadalli CID 999, and Operation Diamond Rocket where he played roles chronicling the adventures of Prakash aka Agent CID 999, a James Bondesque superspy.[33] Much of these films were from the director duo of Dorai-Bhagwan who began making spy flicks relatively late in their careers, with Operation Diamond Rocket being the biggest hit of them all.[34]


Rajkumar was also a well-known singer and sang many film as well as devotional songs. He won the National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer in 1993 for the critically acclaimed song "Naadamaya" from the movie Jeevana Chaitra.[35] It is a classical song in Thodi Raga which demonstrates his versatility as a singer with its complex graces as it progresses with other ragas.

He was trained in classical music while in Gubbi Veeranna's drama troupe which had a requirement for everyone to at least have a working knowledge of the classical music. He performed a song in the movie Mahishasura Mardini (this was picturized on Narasimharaju, a popular comedian). However, he did not become a full-fledged singer until his hugely popular song "Yare Koogadali" from the movie Sampathige Sawal in 1974.[36] Prior to this, Rajkumar's songs were mostly sung by P. B. Srinivas.[23] After which, he sang in most of his movies and in many private albums, which were mainly devotional albums. His song renditions ranged from pure classical to disco and fast numbers to pathos. Although his singing was greatly appreciated, his fans of the days of black-and-white movies in 1960s and 1970s, swear by the fact that his true identity was P. B. Srinivas, who did the playback singing for most of Rajkumar's movies, until Rajkumar himself started to sing. P. B. Srinivas continued singing for him in many of the movies in which Rajkumar starred in double/triple roles.[35]

Rajkumar’s voice had a smoothness and depth that was also capable of great vivacity, noticeable in songs like "Sigivem Kshanadali," "Thai Thai Bangari," "Naa Ninna Mareyalare" and "Aradhisuve." His childhood theatrical background helped him in acting as well as singing and was adept at rendering his voice to different genres: romantic, sentimental, devotional and semi-classical.

His songs about Kannadigas, Kannada language and culture, such as "Jenina Holeyo," "Maanavanagi Huttidmele" and "Huttidare Kannada Naadalli Hutta Beku" (from the 1993 movie Aakasmika), are immensely popular. He even sang a complete English song called "If You Come Today" (Tick Tick Tick) in one of his Bond films - Operation Diamond Racket in 1978. This song became a popular internet meme in India following Rajkumar's demise in 2006.[37]

In his final years, Rajkumar lent his voice to a few other actors and sang many background solos. One such song, which holds a unique distinction, was for the 1993 movie Muddina Maava, wherein he provided playback to the legendary singer S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, who acted in the movie.[35] This was a rare occasion where an actor sang for a singer. Kalidasa's shlokas (songs) like "Sadaa Kannale," "Kanneera Dhaare" and "Yaava Kaviyu," have also become very popular. In addition to his film work, he rendered his voice for many devotional songs on Hanumantha and Sri Raghavendra Swami.[38]

Personal life


Rajkumar Kannada.jpg

Rajkumar married Parvathamma, with whom he had 5 children (two daughters and three sons). Two of his sons - Shivrajkumar and Puneet Rajkumar - have become successful actors in the Kannada film industry.[10] His other son, Raghavendra Rajkumar, is an actor-turned-producer.[39]

Kannada language movement

Although Rajkumar rejected numerous offers to don the political mantle, he was able to influence the State's political fortunes without ever being officially in politics. However, his apolitical outlook did not prevent him from protecting and espousing the cause of Kannada and Karnataka.[9] He had time and again advocated the cause of seeking primacy to Kannada,[22] and hence was asked to lead a movement about making Kannada a compulsory language for primary education based on the "Gokak report," popularly known as Gokak varadhi. He became actively involved in the movement and soon became the force behind the Gokak movement. He took a rally from Belagavi to Bengaluru and gave speeches about the importance of Kannada. Millions of people gathered only to have a glimpse of Rajkumar and listen to his speech. The movement became such a rage that the government relented and made Kannada a compulsory language of education in Karnataka.[9]


Rajkumar was a highly disciplined man.[40] He practiced Carnatic music for an hour each in the morning and in the evening. His punctuality is another noted aspect. Waking up every morning at 4 scrupulously, he performed Yoga and Pranayama, which is said to be the reason behind Rajkumar's physical and mental fitness.[41]

He never played villainous roles, and was the epitome of good character in most of his films. He shunned smoking and drinking both on screen and off.[10] To avoid setting a precedent among his fans, he made sure that the roles he accepted did not require him to smoke or drink or utter swear words, and extended this decision to real life.[9] His dress code always consisted of simple white dhoti and shirt. He spent most of his vacations in his hometown, Gajanur, near the forest area where he was later abducted.[11]


On July 30, 2000, at the age of 71, Rajkumar, his son-in-law Govindaraju, and two others were abducted from the actor's palatial house at Dodda Gajanur (prior to 1947, it was in Princely State of Mysore now in Erode district of Tamil Nadu) by Veerappan. Veerappan was demanding the release of his gang members who were being held in jail under a defunct anti-terrorism law. The event prompted a massive manhunt and threw the Karnataka government into crisis. The Supreme Court of India opined that it was "unpardonable" on the part of the Government of Tamil Nadu for not providing security to Rajkumar despite having information a year ago that he faced threat of being kidnapped by Veerappan.[42] The Special Task Force (STF) that was setup to capture Veerapan had in the past warned Rajkumar against visiting the farmhouse, but his son Raghavendra Rajkumar later acknowledged that his father had not taken the threat seriously.[43]

After a total of 108 days in captivity, Rajkumar was released unharmed on November 15, 2000. His abduction and the manner in which his release were secured are a mystery to this day.[38][44][45] Upon his return to Bengaluru, he knelt down in front of the helicopter with his hands folded and paid respect to the Karnataka soil highlighting his Kannada pride.[46]

Death and aftermath

Rajkumar died at his home in Sadashivanagar, Bengaluru on April 12, 2006 following a cardiac arrest. As per his wishes, his eyes were donated to 2 people the next day.[47][48]

His death precipitated a statewide reaction. Following the news of his death, there was major unrest in the city of Bengaluru. The then Chief Minister, H. D. Kumaraswamy, later claimed that the violence was instigated by vested political interests. However the opposition blamed it on lack of timely arrangements by responsible organizations. An unofficial bandh (closure of all shops and other establishments) was announced. More than 1000 vehicles were burnt and eight people were killed in police firing. Several people attempted suicide after hearing of Rajkumar's death; most of them were rescued. Around two million people followed his remains.[49] Some of the unrest was caught on film during the "Outsourcing" episode of the Morgan Spurlock show 30 Days.

The Karnataka government announced its intention to make a INR10 crore memorial in memory of Rajkumar at Kanteerava Studios. After Rajkumar's demise, as a tribute and remembrance his fans have unveiled more than 50 statues of Rajkumar, spread across Bengaluru city.


The book Bangarada Manushya, the chronicle of Rajkumar, is written by A. N. Prahlada Rao and was first released in 2005 in the presence of Rajkumar himself.[50] It ran into four editions and sold over 15,000 copies. It surmises the achievements of Rajkumar both on and off the screen. The book closely examines Rajkumar’s films, dividing them into those that dealt with mythology, on novels and the social dramas. It also explores his role of a singing star, and includes photographs from his films and other achievements.[51] This book is a referral volume on Kannada film industry, for it is rich in details of the growth and evolution of the Kannada Film Industry.

The book has been translated into English by literary critic C.N. Ramachandran and journalist Alladi Jayashri and published by Sapna Book House, Bengaluru. The English translation is titled "Dr. Rajkumar: The Inimitable Actor With A Golden Voice"[52] was released by the actor's wife Parvathamma Rajkumar in May 2008 at Bengaluru. She handed over the first copy to Professor K.S. Nissar Ahmed, the famous poet and Padma Shri awardee. To mark the completion of 75 years of Kannada film industry, the book was released in New Jersey, United States on 10 May 2008 in an event sponsored by Brindavana, the Kannada Association of New Jersey.[53] On this occasion, its Kannada author A.N. Prahlada Rao and his wife Mallika Prahlad were honored by the resident Kannadigas from New Jersey, New York, Washington DC and other surrounding cities. In London, England it was released by Edward Thomson (Senator) during the month of August 2008.

Awards and honors

Statue of Rajkumar at KG Road (near Santosh theatre) in Bengaluru

Rajkumar was awarded numerous State and National awards. He was a recipient of the Padma Bhushan award, a doctorate from Mysore University, and the Karnataka Ratna, the highest civilian honour of the State of Karnataka, recognizing him as a "Jewel of Kannada films." In 1995 he received the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award for his outstanding contributions to the Kannada film industry. In 2011, during the 83rd birth anniversary of Rajkumar, the Chief Minister of Karnataka announced that the state government is recommending Rajkumar for a Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award of the country for his outstanding contribution to the film industry.[54][30]

National Film Awards

Filmfare Awards South

Rajkumar is a ten-time winner of South Filmfare Awards in the Best Actor category (a record which was later levelled by Kamal Haasan and Mammootty).[5][55] Some of the films which fetched him a Best Actor awards include:

Other awards and honors


At Kanteerava Studios, the Karnataka Government is setting up a memorial for Rajkumar at an estimated cost of INR10 crores.[62] The blueprint of the memorial was constituted by a panel comprising Rajkumar's family members, representatives of the Kannada film industry and the state government.

A permanent exhibition on the history of the Kannada film industry and Rajkumar's movies will be an integral part of the memorial. In respect of Rajkumar's prolonged association with the studio, the actor's trophies and souvenirs will be put up for exhibition at the memorial. It will also have a stock of movies, dialogue, scripts, songs and other memorabilia associated with the actor.[4] The studio, located in Nandini Layout in the northern part of Bengaluru, has become a pilgrim and tourist spot since Rajkumar's death, with thousands of fans coming to pay homage to his memory.[62]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Dr. Raj Kumar Memorial Website
  2. ^ a b Imperial Gazetteer of India. 15. Clarendon Press. 1908. p. 391. 
  3. ^ a b "History of Kollegal Taluk". Chamrajanagar District. http://chamrajnagar.nic.in/distprofile/koll.html. 
  4. ^ a b Hindustan Times - A Rs 100 million memorial to Rajkumar
  5. ^ a b c Rediff - The man who changed Kannada cinema
  6. ^ Economic and Political Weekly - Rajkumar and Kannada Nationalism
  7. ^ Rajkumarmemorial.com - Life
  8. ^ Frontline: The eternal Kannada icon
  9. ^ a b c d Hindu: Pride of Kannada
  10. ^ a b c d e f g New York Times - Rajkumar, Beloved Indian Film Star, Dies at 77
  11. ^ a b Times of India - Gajanur awaits the return of the native
  12. ^ Times of India - Total recall of 108 days of kidnap drama
  13. ^ Deccan Herald News Service - Eight deaths and a funeral
  14. ^ Deccan Herald - Nata Saarvabhouma Dr Rajkumar no more
  15. ^ The Hindu : Friday Review Bangalore : Raja bequeaths empire
  16. ^ News | TimesDaily.com | TimesDaily | Florence, Alabama (AL)
  17. ^ a b c d e "Actor  » D  » Dr. Rajkumar  » Awards". popcorn.oneindia.in. http://popcorn.oneindia.in/artist-awards/12232/1/dr-rajkumar.html. Retrieved 29-04-2011. [unreliable source?]
  18. ^ "Padma Awards Directory (1954-2009)". Ministry of Home Affairs. http://www.mha.nic.in/pdfs/LST-PDAWD.pdf. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  19. ^ a b "40th National Film Festival" (PDF). dff.nic.in. Directorate of Film Festivals. pp. 49–50. http://iffi.nic.in/Dff2011/Frm40thNFAAward.aspx?PdfName=40NFA.pdf. Retrieved 18 September 2011. 
  20. ^ Rediff - Gajanur prays for their 'hero'
  21. ^ Rajakumar, king of Kannada cinema
  22. ^ a b Outlook (Press Trust of India) - Rajkumar: Undisputed cult figure in Karnataka
  23. ^ a b Deccan Herald - Nata Saarvabhouma Dr Rajkumar no more
  24. ^ a b ನಟಸಾರ್ವಭೌಮ 'ರಾಜ್' ಐದನೇ ಪುಣ್ಯತಿಥಿ
  25. ^ Howbase.com - Kalahasti Mahatyam
  26. ^ Trivia about Kannada Cinema
  27. ^ Frontline Cover Story - The eternal Kannada icon
  28. ^ In ‘Shabdavedi’ Dr Rajkumar waged a war against drug menace
  29. ^ Rajkumar Filmography
  30. ^ a b Deccan Herald - State to recommend Raj for Bharat Ratna
  31. ^ "Nilacharal Magazine - Rajkumar Actor Profile". 10 March 2010. http://www.nilacharal.com/enter/celeb/rajkumar.asp. Retrieved 22 September 2011.  |quoted = 1
  32. ^ Vijayasarathy, R.G. (2006-04-17). "The best of Dr Rajkumar". Rediff India Abroad. http://ia.rediff.com/movies/2006/apr/17raj.htm. Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  33. ^ Shivaraj Kumar to play James Bond in Operation Golden Gang
  34. ^ Economic Times - The name is Kumar, Raj Kumar
  35. ^ a b c Annavaru.com - Songs sung by Dr. Rajkumar
  36. ^ Raaga - Sampathige Savaal
  37. ^ Economic Times - The name is Kumar, Raj Kumar
  38. ^ a b 4to40.com - Legends - Dr. Rajkumar
  39. ^ Raghavendra Rajkumar to croon for Puneet's Anna Bond
  40. ^ Onlinebangalore.com - Padmabushana Dr. Rajkumar
  41. ^ Yoga keeps Rajkumar going
  42. ^ Indian Express (Press Trust of India) - TN's failure on Rajkumar's security unpardonable -- SC
  43. ^ The Hindu - Veerappan's prize catch
  44. ^ Times of India - Total recall of 108 days of kidnap drama
  45. ^ Rediff - The Abduction of Dr. Rajkumar
  46. ^ Image of Rajkumar paying respects to his native soil, on landing at the HAL airport.
  47. ^ ThatsKannada - ಕಣ್ಣು ಕೊಟ್ಟ ‘ಬೇಡರ ಕಣ್ಣಪ್ಪ’ : ಇಬ್ಬರು ಅಂಧರಿಗೆ ಬೆಳಕು
  48. ^ Narayana Nethralaya - Dr. Rajkumar Eye Bank
  49. ^ Deccan Herald News Service - Eight deaths and a funeral
  50. ^ Times of India - I can only give you my love: Raj
  51. ^ [ (BANGARADA MANUSHYA ed.), DRUTI PRAKASHANA BANGALORE, 2006, http://openlibrary.org/books/OL23136942M/BANGARADA_MANUSHYA 
  52. ^ Google Books - Dr. Rajkumar, the inimitable actor with a golden voice
  53. ^ Kannadaprabha - «ÚàÀeæÒ%¾ÚßÆÇ "ÁÛeéOÚßÈÚáÛÁé ¦ B¬½l…Åé AOÚoÁé É¢é VæàÞÄu«é ÈÛ¾ÚáéÓ' OÚä~ ¸sÚßVÚsæ
  54. ^ ThatsKannada - ಭಾರತ ರತ್ನಕ್ಕೆ ಡಾ.ರಾಜ್ ಕುಮಾರ್ ಹೆಸರು ಶಿಫಾರಸು
  55. ^ a b Times of India - A requiem for Dr. Rajkumar
  56. ^ a b c The Times of India directory and year book including who's who. The Times of India. 1984. p. 235. 
  57. ^ "The prized people: Profiling the Filmfare south award winners". Filmfare. 1994. doi:November 1994. 
  58. ^ Times of India New Service - No insult to Rajkumar, says CM
  59. ^ "Padma Awards Directory (1954-2009)". Ministry of Home Affairs. http://www.mha.nic.in/pdfs/LST-PDAWD.pdf. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  60. ^ ThatsKannada.com - ಡಾ.ರಾಜ್‌ಗೆ ‘ಈಟೀವಿ-ವಾಟಿಕ ವರ್ಷದ ಕನ್ನಡಿಗ 2003’ ಪಟ್ಟ
  61. ^ HDMC did volte-face on renaming road: Vedike, The Times of India, Apr. 22, 2011.
  62. ^ a b http://in.news.yahoo.com//060418/211/63mfx.html

External links

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