TAMIL NADU

Rajkumar back on his feet

Chennai April 9. Kannada matinee idol Rajkumar is happy. After more than two weeks of wearing hospital clothes, today he has switched over to his spotless white dhoti and shirt.

And as he smooths down his hair, he looks like he is taking rest in between shots, as if waiting for the camera to roll on. Rajkumar steps out of the frame.

In the silent hospital surroundings, the matinee idol takes slow steps towards a high-seat chair in the deluxe lobby, joining his hands in the traditional welcome, "Namaskaram", he says.

His wife Parvathamma, and son Raghavendra stand on either side, close by, yet letting him walk hesitantly on his own. Their presence is constant, but subtle. "My sons decided to bring me here. I have had severe pain, but kept putting up with it. Now, the old pain is completely gone and I am able to walk," Mr. Rajkumar said, settling down in his chairAt his 74 years, one would have imagined surgery would be a complicated procedure, but not according to his surgeon, Mohan Das, of MIOT Hospital.

" It is a very young age for joint replacement surgeons. Imported components, an artificial cup and metal ball replaced the degenerated bones of his left hip and a `mobile bearing knee' replaced the ball joint of his knee," Dr. Mohan Das explains. Rajkumar is doing "very well" after the operations and with his adherance to all the specifications, proving to be in his two-week sojourn `the ideal patient'.

He reminiscences about his days in the forest when kidnapped by the brigand Veerappan with stoicism, "It was a taste of something. In life we need experience.

I was not afraid of anything except for the safety of my fans and family and prayed that violence should not erupt," the Kannada actor recalled.

In fact, as his wife adds, he was treated well by the brigand and his men, with special attention being paid to his knee, which was giving problems even then.