In the annals of Kannada film history, Dr.Rajkumar has achieved the frontline position because of his off and on screen glorious presence in the five decades of his career. He has conquered all awards, set innumerable fans all over Karnataka, reached the pinnacle position in the society and stood as a model for every actor born.
His 205 films exhibit fine control an actor has to possess besides creating an unforgettable memory in the minds of audience.
He is the only actor that the Karnataka has ever produced who is ease with Mythological, Historical and Social films. From Gauthama Buddha to James Bond type of films he proved that the concentration, devotion, patience and hard work pay for a long innings in one’s career.
Dr.Rajkumar before making debut at ‘Muthuraj’ in 1954 in ‘Bedara Kannappa’ appeared in one of the ‘Rishi’s’ role in a Kannada film.
As full-fledged hero in ‘Bedara Kannappa’ Muthuraj (The parents were devotees of Lord Anjeneya near Muthathi) was re-christened as Rajkumar and from then on he became the much sought after hero of Kannada cinema. Today he is an ’Institution’ by himself and the latest film – 205th is regarded as the ‘Dictionary of Films’ for actors.
Dr.Rajkumar entered into films with a strong theatre background. His father Sri Singanallur Puttaswamaiah was his Guru – the mentor. He picked up singing at the age of two and later he was taught the nuances of acting, singing, modulation in dialogue delivery. As it was a practice in the theatre that all characters have to sing for their own role, it helped the young Muthuraj to delve into more details with perfection. The copybook style is an insult to one’s ability – his father used to tell Dr.Rajkumar.
The young Muthuraj completed schooling up to fourth standard and went on to become a legend. He automatically got the prestigious Doctorate from Mysore University, the Karnataka Ratna award – the highest award of the State, the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke award at the National level. This is besides receiving the ‘Padma Bhushan’ award given by the Central Government, the Best Play back singer award at the National level for his song in the film ‘Jeevana Chaitra’. Today he has reached beyond all awards in his age of 72 and respected to the core by all sections of the society. Keeping away from politics Dr.Rajkumar earned more glory into his kitty. An uneducated reaching to top honors is not an easy task – HE IS THE WONDER FOR EVER IN KARNATAKA HISTORY AS A WHOLE.
DR.RAJKUMAR IN DEVOTIONAL ROLES.
The career of Dr.Raj began with a devotional role. The debut role as a hunter is about a young ardent follower of Lord Shiva. He played the role with complete aplomb and in the climax the character removes the eyes to enlighten the God about his admiration. He immerses completely to all devotional roles and it is evident from his various films like Bhakta Kanakadasa, Ohileshwara, Hari Bhaktha, Bhakta Vijaya in the earlier years. In the later years in the films like Bhakta Chetha, Kabeera, Santha Thukaram, Sarvagna, Kaivara Narayanappa, Mantralaya Mahatme Dr.Raj attained a permanent position in the orthodox people. In the film Bhakta Thukaram he was so involved in a Bhajan that even the cloth that got fire did not come to his notice. The onlookers at the unit of the film came to the rescue. In the film ‘Sri Raghavendra Mahatma’ Rajkumar pooh -- poohed detractors who questioned as to what capacity he has got to do that role had to bow their head with perfect outcome of Dr.Rajkumar role. In the particular role when he was about to enter into ‘Vrindavan’ he became spell bound for half an hour and could not answer anyone. A lot of queries were later made but Dr.Raj felt that some divine power has entered into him. From then on he became an ardent follower of Sri Raghavendra Swami. He even kept his second son’s name as Raghavendra. Yet another role among many which got noticed by wider section of people is the film’Bhakta Kumbara’. It moved the great actor like Shivaji Ganeshan. The pot-maker completely immerses himself in the prayer of Panduranga does not even notice that he is killing his own child. In the same film the penalty he pays for making mistakes by cutting his two hands has wetted the eyes of innumerable people who watched the films.
DR.RAJKUMAR IN MYTHOLOGICAL ROLES.
The dialogue delivery is the key point in mythological films. He underwent rigorous training from his father in the small age and went to practice it into theatre also. By watching plays in Gubbi Company and enacting it too Dr.Raj went near to perfection in all his mythological films. The roles of Sri Rama, lord Krishna, Sri Narayana were all soft ones in his career. The films that called for strong dialogue delivery with high voice were Mahishasura Mardini, Mohini Bhasmasura, Bookailasa, Bhakta Prahallada, ‘Babhruvahana’ were immaculately played by Dr.Rajkumar. The main reason for portraying such roles with aplomb is that Dr.Raj had the fine personality. His height, weight the body cuts suitable for a demon as well as Deva roles. The dialogue department, which came to him from his genes, made it ease for such two roles earned an undisputed and most enviable actor.
DR.RAJKUMAR- IN FOLK AND RURAL BASED FILMS.
The folk based film, which called for sword fighting, horse riding, swimming helped Dr.Raj in growing in diversity. The films like Katari Veera, Rajadurgadha Rahasya, Veerakersari were all mixed with magical powers and in many of such films he used to appear as King. The films like ‘Bahaddur Gandu,’ ‘Jagamechchida Maga’. ‘Eradu Nakshatragalu’ proved his ability to portray in daring stunts.
As he hailed from a remote place in Karnataka, the village life and agriculture was also in his blood. To act in village backdrop films it was so much to his liking. The films like ‘Anna Thangi’, ’Mannina Maga’, Mallammana Pavada, Bhoodana, Punarjanma, Doorada Betta, Mayor Muttanna, Bangaradha Panjara,’Sampathige Savaal’ and many more were close to his heart and it also turned out to be so in the audience. Even today at the age of 72 Dr.Rajkumar often remembers to do a full time agriculturist work in his native place Gajanur near Shimoga district.
DR.RAJKUMAR IN HUMOR BASED FILMS.
The two companions for him on the screen Narasimha Raju and Balakrishna further boosted up the height of comedy in the films. In Lagna Patrike, Bhagyadha Lakshmi Baramma, he tried his hands at comedy and every film of Dr.Rajkumar had a small quota of comedy from him.
DR.RAJKUMAR AS SINGER AND IN MUSICAL FILMS.
The music is a part of his life like ‘Yoga’. From the childhood he practiced singing on stage and continuing it till today. He began singing to films in 1956 for the film ‘Ohileshwara’ and his popularity grew from the song Yaare Koogadali…. ,in the film ‘Sampathige Savaal’ and went on to sing for all his films. The famous audio house of the country HMV brought out two volumes ‘Bangaradha Hoovugalu’. The first compact disc was also brought for Dr.Rajkumar films ‘Jeevana Chaitra’ and ‘Odahuttidavaru’ by Sangeetha audio company. Dr.Rajkumar bagged the prestigious National award for his singing in ‘Jeevana Chaitra’ for the song Nadamaya….., continued his singing career. He is in one song in a film released from last six years and the remuneration he gets from it goes to poor section of the society.
The musical film that got noticed in his career is ‘Sandhyaraaga’ the novel written by A.N.Krishna Rao. The ace singers like Balamuralikrishna, Pundit Bhimsen Joshi sung for this film of Dr.Rajkumar. The film ‘Sanadi Appanna’ in which Shahanayi vidwan Pundit Bismilla Khan came down and played it is still lingering in the memory of people of Karnataka.
DR.RAJKUMAR IN THE ROLE OF KINGS.
All the roles he performed were of the nature of historical significance. Most of the recognized Kings roles Dr.Raj played with ease. It all began with ‘Ranadheera Kanteerava’ in 1960. This was made by important artistes after formulating a Society and Raj played the role of Ranadheera Kanteerava role. Before this he appeared in the role of King Bijjala in the film ‘Jagajyothi Basaveshwara’. He later appeared in ‘Kittur Chennamma’ as king and the film ‘Sri Krishnadevaraya’ the king of Vijayanagara Empire is a talk of the town even to this day. In the Devudu’s novel ‘Mayura’, Bharathisutha’s novel based ‘Huliya Halina Mevu’ gained him a comfortable position in historical films too.
DR.RAJKUMAR IN SOCIAL FILMS.
The image that started, grew and stood is from his social films. His love and affection to ‘Mother’ has been very appreciated by every house in Karnataka. The clean dialogues, sensible approach in narration, the sentiments plus the quota of stunts in his films later became a model for all social films.
His career in social films began with ‘Rayara Sose’ and later followed ‘Karuneye Kutumbada Kannu’, Kulavadhu, Gaaligopura’, ‘Bangaradha Hoovu’, ‘Naandi’, ‘Uyyale’ in the early sixties showed his brilliance in the roles that are so near to people in their way of life. In the social films the exceedingly brilliant performance in ‘Kasturi Nivasa’, ‘Eradu Kanasu’ gave him a short stint image of ‘Thyagaraja’. However, Dr.Raj’s unforgettable performance in ‘Bangaradha Manushya’ broke all his records in the box office by running for two years all over Karnataka
The bond films in Kannada also suited this legendary actor. The Govadalli CID 999, CID Rajanna, Rowdy Ranganna, Operation Diamond Rocket, Jedara Bale were entertaining and thrilling experiences for the audience of Kannada cinema.
DR.RAJKUMAR AS A SOCIAL REFORMER AND AS A PUBLIC FIGURE.
The longer the distance he maintained from Politics, the stronger he turned out to be in his public life. The only family connection he is having is his daughter-in-law is the eldest daughter of Former Chief Minister of Karnataka S.Bangarappa.
He was pacified to enter into politics by the then Prime Minister Smt.Indira Gandhi in the 1978 election from Chickmagalur constituency. He said a firm No. As the pressure mounted with the filing of nominations neared Dr.Raj quietly went underground.
The biggest so far public participation of Dr.Rajkumar is for the primacy to Kannada during the Gokak Chaluvali. At this time a political opportunist tried his hands at drawing Dr.Rajkumar to politics but it became a futile attempt. Many more including his fans association chief person entered into politics using Dr.Rajkumar’s name and for regular dodgers he used to say only one thing, ‘I am not intelligent – ignorant of politics’. This kept away others coming near to him. Not only this, he had never canvassed or stood in support to the smallest extent to any party. Dr.Raj’s intervention at the time of Gokak Chaluvali was something like a fitting tribute of Dr.Raj to Kannada language.
The social reformist work was automatically done by his roles from past to present day. On the slogan ‘Jai Jawan jai Kisan’ Mannina Maga was made three decades ago and that highlighted the importance of agriculture-- the back -bone of this country. An agriculturist near Bellary started tilling the neglected land and became rich. The Bangaradha Manusha example is classic. The protagonist Dr.Raj aspires for united family and takes up difficult task of converting the neglected land and nourishes his siblings and then is sent to isolation by the family members. The resultant impact of ‘Jeevana Chaitra’ is still strong. The war against the ill effects of liquor made many of the liquor manufacturers to close their shutters. In his later film ‘Akasmika’ there was a fight against the prostitution, in ‘Odahuttidavaru’ the highlighting point was about the Hindu Undivided family. In his recently released ‘Shadavedi’ which completed 100 days he wages a battle against drug mafias. His films were filled with social commitments and quality of standard was always a key issue. The vulgarity, sex, violence and degradation of women were never a part of his films and thanks to his elder brother S.P.Varadaraj and lyricist and dialogue writer late.Chi.Udayashanker.
Dr.Raj through his musical nites and processions also helped the needy not only in the State but also outside the state. He had recently conducted three musical nites in Karnataka for the aid of Kargil victims, for Orissa cyclone he went to the streets to collect funds for the affected people. The people of Karnataka also never said no whenever Dr.Raj came before them.
Like the cliched saying that behind a successful man there is a successful woman Dr.Raj has his wife Smt.Parvathamma. He married her on his father’s golden advice and it remained truly a golden for Dr.rajkumar. The entire business empire of Dr.Rajkumar is looked after by the humble lady Smt.parvathamma Rajkumar. The couple devotees of Lord Shiva had their first issue after a long 10 years gap and so the name of the first son was kept as ‘Shivaputtaswamy’ and later he became Shivrajkumar in 1986 and maintained the image of his father by winning a hatrick. The three films in succession reached to silver jubilee in the beginning of the career of Shivrajkumar. The second son Raghavendra Rajkumar made a wonderful record in the Kannada film industry as his ’Nanjundi Kalyana’ broke all records in the box office. The third son Puneet made his parents happy at his child age by winning the National award for his best performance in the film ‘Bettada Hoovu. Dr.Raj has two daughters. The second daughter’s husband is Ramkumar a renowned actor in Kannada cinema.