Monday, April 17, 2006

Goodbye, elder brother.

Dr.Rajkumar. That doyen of Kannada cinema. Nata Sarvabhauma. Gaana Gandharva. Kannada cinema’s Dhruva Tare. Kannadigara Kanmani. Annavru. We can go on have a Dr.Raj sahasranama, and it would still be not enough. Respected in life, and insulted in death.

Dr.Raj. Bekadare avaru, karnatakada rajare aagabahudagittu. Aadare, avaru Rajana sthana bedayendu, sadaa Rajakumara aagiye ulidaru. That more or less sums up the man. In English it means, “If he wanted, he could have been the Raja (king) of Karnataka, but he chose to always remain a Rajakumara (prince).” A direct reference to Dr.Raj’s refusal to join politics, much like his contemporaries MGR or NTR had done. His calling was the arts he said. And he was a fine actor. And a fine singer. He also could’ve have gone over to Tamil cinema, but he chose to stay with Kannada, for which he’d said that he would do anything.

1982. The Gokak Movement. Kuvempu, Masti refused to join in. But Rajkumar when informed, joined in with all his heart and soul. “I am ready for any sacrifice for the sake of Kannada land and language,” he declared. And it was only then that this campaign went beyond just an agitation and truly became a ‘people’s movement’. That was the power of Dr.Raj. Till the end, he remained a humble man, epitomising the universal values of humility and peace. And he remained true to Kannada.

Here is another interesting fact. Dr.Raj began his film career in 1954, at a time when Karnataka as a state did not exist. It was only in 1956 that the state of Karnataka was formed, by which time, Dr.Raj had already endeared himself to Kannadigas everywhere. So in effect he was the first cultural icon of Karnataka. And as Karnataka went from strength to strength in the coming decades, so did Dr.Raj. And it was only right that the celebration of his fifty years in Kannada cinema, was fortuitously delayed. Because the grand function that took place to mark 50 years in cinema came at a time when we were celebrating Suvarna Karnataka, or 50 years of Karnataka as a state.

Over the years, he came to embody the finest in Kannada culture and became a role model for all Kannadigas. He went beyond being just an actor. So much so that when he sang “Huttidare Kannadanadalli hutta beku” it became an anthem instantly, and seemed as if he had captured the feelings of millions of Kannadigas into that one song. And it is for this reason that he was Annavru. Translating this word into ‘elder brother’ does not even begin to do justice to the word Annavaru, and the emotions that came with it when we called him that. His charm and the emotions he evokes goes beyond mere acting or singing.

And then age took over, and he died, to the sorrow of millions of us fans and admirers. Death comes to us all, but what happened next in this case is exceptional and shameful. We could go into many theories and detours and the many dimensions about what came to pass. But that is for another day, when the fog lifts.

But Annavre, the people who threw stones and burnt busses were not your fans. And you know that. They are not the abhimanidevaru whom you so respected and loved. But still Annavre, on the behalf of all of us fans and admirers, apologise for the way we behaved and insulted your name and your memory. Your last journey was anything but dignified, and you deserved more than that. And those of us who live on will have to live with that shame for the rest of our lives. As for me, that one last glimpse of you that i got was worth all the lathi-charge and the tear gas that came my way.

But you know who your true fans are. You started your career with Bedara Kannappa, and brought tears to many eyes, when in the film you offered your eyes to Lord Shiva. Even in death, you did good by giving sight to two people by donating your eyes. And inspired by that, many members of your many Abhimani Sanghas have donated their eyes. And these are your true fans, and the ones that will do you and your memory proud. Even in death you were a role model.

One last thing Annavre, you sang in that anthem ‘huttidare kannadanaadalli huttabeku,
“…Mundina nanna januma
Baraditta nanthe Brahma
Illiye, illiye…
Yendigoo naa illiye…”

And I will hold you to your words. And I know you sang true. You will come back. Dr.Raj is dead. Long live Annavru. Yendendigoo neevu illiye. You will remain forever in our hearts and minds.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with ur comments on Dr.Raj.And I also join with u to salute this legend

"Devatha Manushya !!!Bangaradha Manushya !!!