Sunday, April 24, 2011

Remembering Rajkumar - Bhaaga Eradu

(from some "Bond" movie of Rajkumar)

(the iconic shot from "Kasturi Nivasa")

I think "Dhruvathaare" was the first movie I ever saw in a theatre. There are very few details I remember about the movie - Geetha, a very tall heroine by Kannada film standards, one particular scene where some protesters hit Rajkumar on his head, and Rajkumar prevailing over bad guys in the end. I distinctly remember coming back from the movie and beating the hell out of my granny's soft pillow, imagining it to be the villain. I know I "analyze" the movies a lot these days, but these films, no matter how simplistic they seem today, will remain an integral part of my fondest childhood memories. I have to thank Rajkumar for that!

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In the eighties of Mysore, "Enayya Rajkumara" was the most common way, a kid was addressed by affectionate uncles. I know "Rajkumara" also means "prince", but Rajkumar represented the values of those times - soft spoken, good natured, honest.

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I am a bigger fan of Rajkumar's singing than his acting. Even with the risk of being lynched by PBS and SPB supporters, to me, he is the best Kannada singer. Ever! Be it semi classical, classical, romantic, pathos - he had the ability to sing it all. Diction, range, expression - he had everything. Listen to "Baanigondu Elle Ellide", "Aaradhisuve Madanaari", "Maanikya Veena", "Kanneera Dhaare" - to understand what I am talking about.

Rajkumar had the fortune of working with such musical greats like GK Venkatesh, Rajan Nagendra, TG Lingappa, M Ranga Rao - who utilized his singing potential to the fullest. But, the filmmakers in Kannada rarely pushed him beyond the pauranic/historical roles and safe, feel-good family films - which he did admirably  well. But I would have really loved to see him in more unconventional, challenging roles, may be in a Puttanna Kanagal movie, when Puttanna was in the height of his powers.

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Here is one of my most beloved cinematic moments. The duel between Arjuna and his son, Babruvahana from my most favorite Rajkumar film "Babruvahana". Both the roles are performed by Rajkumar. The only difference in their appearances being - Babruvahana has a pencil mustache, Arjuna has a bigger mustache. Yet, you feel that Arjuna is in his forties and Babruvahana in his twenties. Both the roles are not drastically different - but see his mastery over voice modulation (0:40 to 1:30 in the video). Babruvahana challenging Arjuna, also symbolically marks the passing of the baton in playback singing, from PB Srinivos to Rakjumar.

Oh and I almost forgot what I wanted to tell. Happy birthday, sir!



3 comments:

Sandhya said...

I think ondu muttina kathe was one of those off beat movies he did.

bellur said...

vasuki,
first image is not from some "Bond" movie of Rajkumar... bcoz that image is of NTR!
bellur

Bit Hawk said...

@Sandhya
I was expecting somebody to talk about this movie.
Yes, "Ondu Muttina Kathe" was different. But Rajkumar was terribly miscast as deep sea diver. Rajkumar's diction looked like straight out of "Hosabelaku" or "Chalisuva Modagalu", you just dont feel that this is how a sea diver of that region speaks. Compare that to Umasri's local dialect in "Gulabi Talkies".

@Bellur
It looks similar to the NTR photo you sent. But every time I look at this photo, I feel that Rajkumar will turn on the remote for his revolving cot :)