It was a summer in the late 1970s when I visited relatives in Madras (now Chennai) during my holidays. A family friend living in Kodambakkam told me that Kannada actor Rajkumar lived down the street. One evening I walked up to the actor's house wondering whether I would get an opportunity to meet this revered star. My chances of seeing him at close quarters in Bangalore were slim with crowds thronging everywhere he went.
As I stood near the gate, a pack of dogs barked menacingly from the inside. Just as I begun to turn away a white car pulled up. The rear seat window rolled down and a friendly face smiled and inquired. It was the superstar himself! When I told him that I had come from Bangalore to see him, he got down from the car, signaled the maid to take the dogs away and invited me inside. It was a humid evening and Dr. Rajkumar looked visibly tired, perhaps after a long day of work.
He asked me to take a seat along with him in the verandah. He seemed completely at ease and relaxed as he asked me about school, hobbies, interests etc. as we sipped coffee. He then asked me if I would like to meet his family for which I readily agreed. He took me upstairs and introduced me to his mother, a petite elderly woman who stood with folded hands. At once, I understood where he got his humility. I noticed a number of children in the household and asked him who they were. He explained that they lived as a joint family and some of them were his nephews and nieces.
He introduced me to his wife and children and took me to the balcony. His face lit up in pride as he pointed to a portrait of his father and spoke of his theatrical abilities. He showed me some of the trophies that he had won for his movies. Throughout the time, he never showed an inkling of inconvenience or intrusion of his privacy. We talked and talked for 45 minutes. As it getting a little dark, I told him that I needed to go.
He was about to follow me downstairs when I politely told him that I could find my way out and that he should not take the trouble of getting down the stairs. He replied that it was just good manners to see off a guest all the way. He even opened the gate, shook hands and wished me good luck with my studies. It was truly a magical experience! Over the decades, I was fortunate to meet several accomplished people from around the world. However, the childhood encounter with Dr. Rajkumar remains etched forever in my mind for his extraordinary simplicity and kindness. He had the heart to set aside his own plans for the evening to make a child happy! Only a sincerely caring person would do that. He was truly a Bangarada Manushya!