NIMISH PRATAP SINGH writes: When a demigod leaves for the hereafter, memories is all his devotees are left with. Most will refresh those memories by going to a movie, switching on the television, or inserting a CD.
In Karnataka’s smaller towns and villages, they will look at Munikumar to reconnect.
Not only does Munikumar, also known as Junior Raj Kumar, resemble Dr Raj Kumar in face and physique, he also reels out the dialogues of Dr Raj’s best movies in his show, Rasamanjari Nights.
In his three-hour show, Munikumar stages the scenes from the thespian’s best known movies like Gandhada Gudi, Sampathige Saval and Kasturi Nivasa.
One moment, Munikumar is performing the role of Narasimha from a scene in Bhakta Prahallada, burning eyes and all, and the next moment, he is enacting a suited-booted father from Nanobba Kalla.
It's not quite the real thing, never can be, but it comes close.
Although Munikumar never went to an acting school, he reproduces these scenes so virtuously that even Dr. Raj Kumar could not help complimenting him for his acting and speaking skills.
"You are me,” Dr Raj told Junior Raj when he was the chief guest at one show by the five-member Rangabhumi group, that travels and stages shows across cities, towns and villages of Karnataka.
When Munikumar began his show 12 years ago, he was sceptical of audience reaction. But he now counts celebs from Bollywood actors to former chief minister Dharam Singh among his fans.
When he heard of his icon’s passing away, Munikumar couldn't at first control his tears. After he calmed down, he said Dr Raj had always lived in his heart and would continue to inspire him forever.
His wife Shantamani acknowledged that it was the grace of Dr. Raj Kumar that had sustained them. Now, with the provider himself gone, Munikumar said he now had only one dream to fulfill: to open a music school in his memory.