Few actors achieve superstardom during their lifetime, even fewer remain immortalised. Dr Rajkumar is one of those few actors who made his mark, in the most definite of ways through sheer calibre.
Today is the actor's 91st birth anniversary, and fans are celebrating it with full gusto. Rajkumar is one of India's most acclaimed actors and has become a cultural icon who has worked in over 200 films. He was also a classical singer for which he won national recognition. It is only fitting then to look at some lesser-known aspects of his life and achievements.
7 Lesser-known facts and trivia about Dr Rajkumar
Dr Rajkumar was Kannada cinema's finest, winning national appreciation and fame. His films were loved by all, and 31 of his films were remade 53 times in 7 languages. That's no mean feat. The actor who was born on 24th April 1929 to theatre artists, left school at 8 hoping to pursue acting. It was not until 25 that he started seeing success as an actor.
Singanalluru Puttaswamy Muthuraj came to be known popularly by his stage name Rajkumar. As he acquired a huge fan-following, the actor was called 'Annavaru' which means 'Respected elder brother' in Kannada. In 1983 the actor was bestowed with the Padma Bhushan one of the highest civilian honours in the country.
- In nearly 50 years he only acted in Kannada films
There was only one film in 1954, Sri Kalahastiswara Mahatyam that the actor did which was incidentally in Telugu. His movies enjoyed a success rate of over 90% which was enormous for an Indian actor at any time. Interestingly, the actor avoided playing a villain and drinking or smoking on screen, as he didn't endorse it in his personal life.
- Rajkumar was the only actor to receive National Awards for both acting and singing
The actor won a National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer in 1992 for the song, Naadamaya Ee Lokavella from the film Jeevana Chaitra. He also won the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1995 which is India's highest award in cinema awarded at the National Film Awards ceremony. He is also the only Kannada actor to receive an honorary doctorate in acting from Mysore University.
- Dr Rajkumar is the only Indian actor to receive the 'Kentucky Colonel' award
The Kentucky Colonel award is awarded by the state of Kentucky, USA, previously awarded to the British Prime Minister and Russian Prime Minister.
- In 1978, Rajkumar made Indira Gandhi nervous
In the 1978 by-elections, it was being said that the Kannada actor would be contesting against Indira Gandhi. It was also plausible that the actor could win if he did contest, but he chose not to saying that he didn't want to misuse his popularity to win an election when he didn't have an inclination towards politics.
- Rajkumar sang the only English song in the history of Kannada movies in Dorairaj Bhagwan's Operation Diamond Rocket in 1978
Rajkumar incidentally sang all the songs of the film, but the song If You Come Today became extremely popular, sung in broken English.
- Rajkumar was kidnapped by notorious decoit Veerappan in the year 2000
The actor was kidnapped at his palatial house in Gajanur by the bandit Veerappan on July 30th, 2000. He spent 108 days in captivity before being released in November. Till date, details of how he was released remains a mystery.
- Upon his death, the actor's eyes were donated to an eye bank
Thespian Dr Rajkumar always wished that his eyes would be donated after he died. In keeping with his wish, after his death, his eyes were donated.
There will not be another like him for a while, and his memory still remains very much alive.