Yesteryear hero Rajesh will be guest of honour at Belli Hejje

When Rajkumar, Udayakumar and Kalyankumar ruling the Kannada film industry, he carved a niche for himself and acted in more than 150 films.

At one point, he was even compared with Sivaji Ganesan of Tamil film industry for the finesse of what fan call “dialogue delivery”.

He is none other than Rajesh, one of the finest actors of yesteryears.

He is the guest of honour at Belli Hejje, Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy's monthly programme, to be held on Saturday at 4.30 p.m. at Badami House.

Born on April 15, 1935 in Bangalore, Rajesh, whose actual name is Vidyasagar, grew up watching then stars such as Thyagaraja Bhagavatar, Rajakumari and T.R. Mahalingam.

He developed interest in theatre from his childhood and joined Sudarshana Nataka Mandali without his parents' knowledge.

To support himself initially and make both ends meet, Rajesh worked as a typist in government offices.

Later he formed the Shakti Nataka Mandali, staging many popular plays.

He was not only good at acting but also a good singer. His theatre performances eventually progressed to film roles. It was veteran director Hunsur Krishnamurthy who introduced Vidyasagar in Veera Sankalpa.

Turning point

The turning point was Namma Ooru in 1968. Directed by C.V. Shivashankar, it was a runaway hit and then Finance Minister Ramakrishna Hegde gave it a 100 per cent tax exemption.

It was the film's producer B.S. Narayan who rechristened Vidyasagar as Rajesh and after that, he was flooded with offers.

He recently acted in Nanna Gopala, a children film directed by Lakshman.