The very name Dr Raj evokes in me many pictures. And Dr Raj is several “men” in a procession.
Since childhood he was the one actor who triggered our collective imagination. In fact a whole generation started seeing Kannada films only because Dr Raj Kumar acted in it.
In fact, I saw only his films for many years. Dr. Raj Kumar was also one of the most versatile actors in Indian cinema. His character depiction ranging from comedy to action, from rustic to aristocrat, from double to triple roles, from mythological characters to modern-day hero.
He adapted himself to all types of roles, thus creating for himself an indelible niche in the minds of the audience.
But Dr Raj was more than just a film personality.
Sure, he was a matinee idol for Kannadigas. But had been just that, he would have remained as a film actor and he would not have commanded the respect and love from millions of Kannadigas.
In his entirety, Dr Raj was an icon for Kannadigas.
An all-pervading phenomenon.
A cultural and social voice of the State. He took up the Kannada cause when its interests were in jeopardy. And I think he was the only person who could hold sway on Kannadigas for such a long period.
This was possible because of his humane nature. He touched the chords of millions of Kannadigas especially large sections of the middle class for whom his roles were tailor-made.
Dr Raj was very cautious about his image and used to select such roles that would enhance his persona. Till the very end last he protected it with great care.
For this sake he stopped smoking cigarettes, avoided liquor on and off the screen, and lived a very simple life unlike any film star. He was very innocent on worldly matters.
His wife Parvatamma played a very important role in his life. Many directors must have worked with him in his reel life but in real life she was the only director. She played this role with such command till the very end that people thought she was the director!
She never allowed him to air his views in public. She was always at his side. She used to decide the heroines for his films. I wonder why people called him annaavru as the real annaavru was Parvatamma.
In a way, it immensely helped Dr Raj tread the same course through out his career.
Nijakkoo Kannadakkobbane Raj.
When he died I felt I had lost a bit of myself.
I will miss him.
(Vishweshwar Bhat is the Executive Managing Editor of Vijaya Karnataka, the number one Kannada daily)
DR RAJ KUMAR: the full coverage on http://churumuri.wordpress.com