The singer not the song. The singer and the song.

The musical genius of Dr Raj Kumar is one of the least appreciated bits of an actor whose only national award was for singing. The uncharitable view is that “The Family” didn’t like P.B. Srinivas shining in the reflected glory of providing the lips to the legend, and so he began to sing for his own films.

Whatever be the truth, the truth also is Singanallur Puttaswamayya Muthuraj aka Raj Kumar could sing, and sing very well.

A background in Carnatic classical music in his theatre days as part of the Gubbi Veeranna Company seemed to have been enough to enable him to face the baton of hard task-masters like Ilayaraja, hold his own against pros like S. Janaki, and demonstrate his skills before full orchestras; even ending up providing the playback for a singer (S.P. Balasubramanyam) acting in a movie!

On his third death anniversary, two very contrasting numbers—the very classical Naada maya ee lokavella from Jeevana Chaitra, which fetched him the big prize; and Jeeva hoovagide from Neenu nanna gellalaare.

Also read: Dr Raj Kumar‘s top-11 songs

Raj Kumar’s rich musical landscape