Dr. Rajkumar was a well known actor and singer in Karnataka and at his peak, his very name generated a furor in the state. Having done more than 200 films, Rajkumar wooed his audience with his talented skills as a director and his captivating voice. He was referred as Gaana Gandharva which can be literally translated to ‘A singer in the court of gods’.
Dr. Rajkumar was a very humble personality who dealt only with his work, and he was famous for the same. He was a disciplined man who followed a regular routine and never got caught in the fickle trap of fame
Despite his iconic status and fan following, Rajkumar never tried his hand at politics but proved to be very influential when the need came. Rajkumar came under extensive press coverage when he was abducted from his house by the dacoit Veerappan .Rajkumar was kidnapped for 108 days before his release. Till date his release has been a complete mystery as the story behind his release is not known.
His Early Years and Debut
Rajkumar was born on April 29th, 1929 in Singanallur but spent most of his childhood in Ganjanur. He hailed form a theatrical background as his father was a famous theatre actor and got Rajkumar into acting at a very young age.
His debut venture in theatre was as a child with his father, and the play was led by the famous Gubbi Veeranna. His first movie was Bedara Kanappa (1954) in which he acted and showcased his singing talents. This was the beginning of his film career and he was given the name Rajkumar after this movie.
Some of his noted works were Bhagyada Bagilu (1968), Kalahasti Mahatyam (1954) and Devatha Manushya (1988). He even started his own production house Vajreshwari Production which produced all his movies. Some of the movies that he produced include Kaviratna Kalidasa (1983) and Shankar Guru (1978).
Rajkumar also starred in a series on Bond like films such as Operation Jackpot Nalli CID 999 (1968) and Goadalli CID 999 (1968). He was known to sing many devotional songs and his vocal talent brought him many accolades and awards. One of his most famous songs is Yare Koogadali from the movie Sampathige Sawal.
After the success of this song, he became a popular singer and releases his own albums and sang more devotional songs. Some of his other well known songs are Naa Ninna Mareyalare (1976), Thai Thai Bangari (1971), and Le Le Appana Magale.
The song Raga Thodi won him the National Award for Best Playback Singing. In 1983, he won the Padma Shri Award, in 1993 he won the Karnataka Ratna Award and in 1995, he received the Dada Saheb Phalke Award.
His Demise and Legacy
Rajkumar died on the 12th of April 2006 in his house in Bangalore due to an unfortunate cardiac arrest. His death created a lot of havoc in the state, leading to violence and widespread riots. Some of his fans committed suicide and the day of his demise was declared as a state holiday, taking into account the impact of the event.
Rajkumar contributed immensely to the Kannada Film Industry, and with his singing and acting, he cast a spell on the audience. His loss is felt and mourned by the movie industry, his family and his countless fans.