It's not every day that people fork out several times the cover price for a just-published book. Also, it's not every day that a son brings out a coffee table book in his father's memory. But then, the father happens to be a recipient of the Dadasaheb Phalke Award who had considerable impact on Kannada cinema.
Saturday was a day of mixed emotions for the late actor Rajkumar's family, when the youngest son, actor Puneeth Rajkumar, proudly showed off the 272-page, well-produced book he co-authored, at a function at the Taj Vivanta here.
Dr. Rajkumar: The Person Behind the Personality is a record of the legendary actor's life and career, and is packed with no less than 1,750 photographs, many of them never published before. It was an attempt to preserve the soul of the thespian for posterity.
It is a labour of love for Mr. Puneeth, who teamed up with Prakruthi N. Banavasi, an educationist, to bring out the bilingual coffee table book to the thespian's fans in Karnataka as well as the diaspora.
Replete with anecdotes and incidents that shaped Rajkumar's persona, it tracks his early life, childhood, adolescence, early career in company drama and then cinema, his stint as a singer as well as defining moments in his personal life and the Kannada film industry itself.
Mr. Puneeth, whose day job is acting, said he tried to understand his father through the eyes of his mother, brothers, family and friends. “It is not a documentation of Dr. Rajkumar's life, but simply unveils the persona of the great artiste through the words of those who knew him from close quarters,” he said.
The book, priced at Rs. 3,000, was released by his mother Parvathamma and aunt Nagamma, his father's sister. The actor's second son, actor-producer Raghavendra Rajkumar, said the family had conceived the book way back in 1997, but the project gained momentum only after Rajkumar's demise in 2006. “Already there are 67 books in Kannada and English on [our father]. Though we were toying with the biography, it was Appu who took the lead.”
He, and the oldest brother, actor Shivarajkumar, announced that the proceeds from the book's sales would be channelled to Kannada schools that are in a bad shape. Ms. Parvathamma herself bought the first copy by paying Rs.1 lakh. Many in the film industry cheerfully parted with anything between Rs.25,000 and Rs.50,000 for the honour.
K.T. Raghunathan of Vasan Publications, the distributor, said this was the first coffee table book in Kannada of international standards.