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DOWN TO EARTH Rajkumar's simplicity was legendary
DOWN TO EARTH Rajkumar's simplicity was legendary

Rajkumar was a picture of simplicity and a sincerity of purpose

"I was passing through T. Nagar, Chennai, when I saw this familiar figure choosing vegetables from a roadside vendor. It took me a while to realise that it was the Kannada megastar Rajkumar," Charu Hassan, Kamal Hassan's elder brother said. The first time I interviewed Rajkumar, I strolled into his Trustpuram residence. There was a child near the gate whohad come from Bijapur to get a glimpse of the star. This reminded me of Rajnikanth telling me about how he skipped writing exams and ran away to Madras to meet Raj. His simplicity is legendary but what surprised me was his candour. When I mentioned that he was considered the property of Kannadigas he said: "I never had any say in this. People presumed that I will act only in Kannada films and I didn't want to hurt them. The genuine reason is that I don't see any need to act in other language films. I think when I have not perfected my own language where is the need to learn and act in other languages?" To another question he said: "In anything man does his primary concern is money. Then comes art."He was not very happy that his sons wanted to follow in his footsteps. "I am illiterate so I want my sons to study well. But I have told Shivanna that if he's serious he should train hard. In fact, I've asked him to go and watch Kamal Hassan on the sets." You will never hear a fan say he went to meet Raj and was shooed off. "There are genuine fans who come just to meet me. But many even ask money or jobs. The most common story is the one about their picked purse but as long as I'm well off nobody in need will go empty handed."Rajkumar was an under-rated and an under-utilized actor. His performances in mythological roles were resplendent. To question about acting in art cinema he said: "I'm not exactly eager. I was approached by Lankesh's men but they told me one thing and did exactly the opposite. So the project went awry." Raj was shaken by the death of his brother Vardaraj and contemporaries like Vajramuni. Dignity in death is something the departed deserve. Raj would have shuddered if he had seen the mayhem. Did his Gods ("abhimani devarugalu") do the dastardly deeds or something else? It is sad that they failed to represent anything at all, not even the man.S. SHIVA KUMAR


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