April 12, 2006 was the day the Kannada Film Industry and its fans received a rude shock. Even members of his own family had not thought that the Kannada Movie icon Dr. Raj Kumar's end was so near. His first son Shivaraj Kumar was shooting in Hospet to complete the pending portions of his film Kumara Rama along with his family members and also his nephews and nieces. The day started off like any other day, but in the afternoon the thespian complained of some uneasiness. A visit to the Hospital became inevitable, and within a few hours the disaster occurred; Dr. Raj Kumar was dead, orphaning lakhs and lakhs of his dear Kannadiga fans who considered him as a demi god. The whole of Karnataka got submerged into a sea of sorrow. The tragedy was unbearable, and it took several days for the people to come out from the shock.
It is now exactly one year since the icon breathed his last, and his memory lingers on. The quiet walk, the simple and straightforward speeches that were understood even by children, his white attire, his terrific presence at the functions, and above all, his towering performance on the screen will be discussed forever. There is not an iota of doubt that he was a cut above the rest and has left a lasting impression on the psyche of the Kannadigas.
Kannada film industry today faces a big vacuum in his absence. Every other person wants to take up the mantle of the hero, but he is not cut out for that task. Confusions and conflicts have become the order of the day, and there is no way that it can be resolved. The three month crisis in the film industry which had halted the production activities of new Kannada films, clearly showed that the industry did not have the guidance from a person of eminence like Dr. Raj Kumar who would have guided the warring segments of the film industry.
Though his farewell was not a memorable affair, what with many of fans succumbing to the bullets of police, his samadhi has virtually become a temple. It has become a regular visiting spot for many tourists who come to Karnataka. Thousands of his fans visit his samadhi everyday, where they pray and meditate. His family members also visit his samadhi invariably. Shivaraj Kumar generally visits it in the evenings after his shoot is over. Ms. Parvathamma Raj Kumar has been visiting the samadhi practically every day. Other members of the family also visit and pay their respects to the departed legend who belonged to the whole of the state. The birthday functions of Shivaraj Kumar, Puneet Raj Kumar and Raghavendra Raj Kumar was also celebrated at the samadhi of Raj in the presence of a large number of fans.
But unfortunately, a fitting memorial for the great thespian is still not ready.Despite pressure from his fans and even mild protests from Dr. Raj Kumar's family, the work related with the memorial is going on at a snail's pace, even though the state government has recently allotted Rs. 5 crores for this memorial project. All materials that are required for this memorial have been carefully collected by Ms. Parvathamma Raj Kumar and other members of the family.
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