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Revisiting Dr Rajkumar's classic movies

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Eighty four years ago, on this very day a star was born to Singanalluru Puttaswamayya and Lakshmamma in Gajanur. Acting was in his genes as his father was a theatre personality. Being dropped out from school at the age of eight, he choose the same path, which his father had opted for living. After working in a couple of dramas and doing short roles in films, he got a chance to play the lead role in a Kannada movie, which became a miracle that changed his life once for all and the life never remained the same for him!

Yes, it is none other than late Dr Rajkumar, the iconic superstar of Kannada film industry whose 84th birthday is today. The actor, who was christened Mutturaju before HLN Simha named him Rajkumar, acted in over 200 films. He started playing lead role in Bedara Kannappa and the reached 100-film mark in Bhagyada Bagilu. He achieved the 200-feat mark in Devatha Manushya. In his five-decade career, he did all kind of roles. Be it mythological role or James Bond character, he gave life to characters of all kind, thereby becoming a matchless actor of his times in Kannada films.

Today, the whole of Karnataka is celebrating his 84th birthday. On this special occasion, we would like to remember some of his classics.

Note: We have chosen only 10 movies.

Bedara Kannappa (1954)

Bedara Kannappa had many firsts to its credit. It was the first film in which Dr Rajkumar played the lead role, it was the first Sandalwood film that ran for 100 days in theatres and it brought the first National Award to Kannada cinema.

It was directed by HLN Simha and produced by CR Basavaraju. It featured Pandari Bai, Raja Sulochana, and Narasimha Raju in the leads. The song 'Shivappa kayo tande...' composed by R Sudarshanam is very popular even today.

Satya Harischandra (1965)

Satya Harischandra was made two times in Kannada, first in 1943 which starred Subbaiah Naidu and then in 1965 that featured Dr Rajkumar. Hunsur Krishnamurthy had directed the second version and it featured legends like Pandari Bai, in the role of Raj's wife, MP Shankar in the role of lord Yama, and Hasya Chaktravarthi Narasimharaju as Nakshatrika. Uday Kumar had played the role of Maharshi Vishwamitra. It also featured Ashwath and Dwarakish in minor roles.

The film was re-released several times and it was well-received by audience every time the film hit the screens. In 2008, the film was released in colour format by KCN Enterprises, which owned the rights of the movie. This was also the third film in India to be converted to colour from black and white after film Mughal-E-Azam in 2004 and Naya Daur in 2007.

Kasturi Nivasa (1971)

'Aadisidaata Besara Moodi Aata Mugisida...' track from the film Kasturi Nivasa is the tragic tune of Sandalwood. In the modern days, television channels use this tune when a cine actor or popular celebrity dies. The film directed by Dorai-Bhagavan also featured Jayanthi, KS Ashwath and Arathi in other roles.

The story of passionate love and sacrifice film was supposed to be made in Tamil but G Balasubramanyam's script did not appeal Shivaji Ganeshan. Later, it changed hands from the original writer and landed with Dorai-Bhagavan. It was interesting to note that the Tamil superstar remade it in Kollywood after witnessing massive response in Sandalwood.

When the film hit the screens it ran only for four weeks due to a prior agreement between producers and exhibitors. But it ran for over 100 days at many cinema halls across the State during the second and subsequent runs.

Sakshatkara (1971)

Sakshatkara was the third combo film of Rajkumar and legendary director Puttanna Kanagal, and eventually it became their last as they could not work after the massive success of the film.

The movie featured Jamuna, Bollywood actor Prithviraj Kapoor, Narasimharaju, Balakrishna, Vajramuni and others in the cast. Sakshatkara is about the superstitious beliefs around marriage and how unscrupulous elements in society could manipulate these beliefs to their benefit and lead to tragic consequences. Like many other films, this movie too saw a few re-release and was well received by audience.

Bangaaradha Manushya (1972)

Bangaaradha Manushya was not a film for Kannadigas but a change! Yes, the movie had a huge impact on urban youths, who left the city after watching the film and returned to villages to take up their prime occupation agriculture.

Directed by Siddalingaiah, the film starred Bharathi, Vajramuni, MP Shankar, Balakrishna, Srinath, Dwarakish and others in the cast. The film ran for over two years at the States Theatre (Bhoomika at present in KG Road, Majestic) in Bangalore and created history. It is also remembered as the landmark film in Annavaru's career.

Gandhada Gudi (1973)

Gandhada Gudi was 150th film of Dr Rajkumar. The film was biggest commercial hit of his career in 70s. The film, which also featured Kalpana, Balakrishna and Narasimharaju in key roles, was the only film which starred two legends of Kannada - Raj and Vishnuvardhan.

The song 'Naavuduva nudi...' is a popular song crooned on Kannada land and it is very popular even today. But the movie was marred by controversies after a real bullet was accidentally triggered by Vishnuvardhan at Rajkumar.

Sampathige Savaal (1974)

AV Seshagiri Rao directorial movie Sampathige Savaal was one of the biggest commercial hits of Dr Rajkumar's career. The film featured Manjula, Vajramuni, AV Rajamma, Rajashankar, Balakrishna and others in the cast.

PB Sreenivas was inseparable part of Dr Rajkumar's films for decades but in 1974, when the singer could not croon the track, music director of GK Venkatesh persuaded the actor to sing the famous song 'Yaare koogadali...' and rest is the history.

Mayura (1975)

Mayura was a landmark historical film made on Kadamba dynasty. The film is considered by many as a symbol of Kannada pride. It was written by Devudu Narasimhashastri and directed by Vijay.

Dr Rajkumar, Srinath, Manjula, Vajramuni, Balakrishna, Manjula, Ashwath, MP Shankar and others were in the cast. It was one of the hits of 1975. 'Naniruvude nimagagi, nadiruvudu namagagi...' track of the film was probably first Kannada song that inspired mass and made realise the importance of having 'hope' in life.

Babruvaahana (1977)

Babruvaahana was written and directed by Hunsur Krishna Murthy, and starred Rajkumar in dual role as Arjuna and Babruvahana, B Saroja Devi as Chitrāngadā, Kanchana as Uloopi, and Jayamala as Subhadra. The Hindu mythological film not only won the hearts of Kannada audience but also bagged two state awards in Best Actor (Dr Rajkumar) and Best Sound Recording (SP Ramanathan) categories.

'Yaaru teliyaru ninna bhuja bala...' track from the film is one of the all time favourite songs of Raj fans.

Operation Diamond Racket (1978)

Operation Diamond Racket was the fourth Bond film in the combo of Rajkumar and Dorai Bhagawan. The film became the biggest hit among this genre of films in 70s and it was the last film of Raj in this genre. The film was mainly shot in Nepal. Manjula and Padmapriya were the female leads in the movie.

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