April 12, 2006

In Memoriam

I was shocked, to say the least, when a junior walked in and told us that Dr Rajkumar passed away. I remember that I had a frozen smile on my face, assuming it was some sort of a joke, but then I went to Srini's desk to confirm. I guess the smile was replaced by a gape then. I quickly walked to a telephone to check if mom knew. I could see many others walking around receiving or making calls. Yes, my workplace has a sizeable kannada population, or atleast many who understand the significance of what Annavaru's death holds.

An ignorant bystander asks, whats all the fuss about, wasnt he just an actor?

Nope, we try to explain. He won the Dada Saheb Phalke award, didnt you know?

A shake of the head.

Ignorant was the right choice of word here. I still try to commit names and places to memory. G.K, you know. Seems lost on some.

He's an icon here. Hmm someone on the scale of the Big B.

Unfair comparison, I know. But there is no one else that they can relate to. Kannadigas wouldnt have dreamed of forgetting all about him if his production company had failed, like ABCL did. Many people would have willingly given up their little kitty of cash, if there was even a hint of financial trouble in Dr Raj's life.

And he has never dabbled in the one profession everyone loves to hate, Politics. He was loved even more for that very fact.

I havent watched a kannada movie in a theatre in a long while. Come to think of it, it was Akasmika that I did watch on the big screen. A Rajkumar movie, needless to say. I was in school then.

I must have seen so many movies of his. Him and Dwarkeesh were a delight to watch as a child. He could play a Bond kind of suave role, and that of a mere villager, with so much ease and panache as if he were born to it. He gave up non vegetarian food, for he was playing a role that required him to be a devout person who did not consume meat. I cannot imagine doing the same thing, for any reason!

Srinivas, gave the vocals for Rajkumar's movies, till he realised that he could sing too. Make no mistake, it is no half hearted effort of any other actor who dabbles in singing, and we shut our ears and listen. He actually sang well, and received a National Award for playback singing(nadamaya..ee lokavella). He received a Padma Bhushan too, if I am not wrong.

For all his success, he did not let it go to his head. Ever so humble, he was really, a very nice guy. Even after the kidnapping by Veerappan, he still had a few good words to say about the vile creature that had imprisoned him. I know many in the current generation who refuse to believe that anyone can be nice, or so good. It is fashionable now not to watch kannada movies, but then again, not many of them are good. Everyone says, if only his sons were as good as him. But no one will ever be.

One of Rajkumar's passions was the language itself. He was one of the people who actually tried to make people understand the significance of their own language. I guess that would be a little difficult for any outsider to understand. I mean, who would not love their own language. Ah, welcome to Karnataka. We are rarely passionate about anything. You come and occupy our land, we do not demand that you learn our language. Ever seen someone not knowing Hindi in the North; or seen a Chennaiite help you in English, even if he knew the language? Oh no, here even the rickshaw drivers take immense pride in speaking to you in the language that you talk to them in.

But the one person that can drive people to display any kind of emotion is, well you guessed it, Dr Rajkumar. The riots are a despicable way of coming to deal with the grief, I am sure most of the rioters have not seen a single movie of his. For grief, it is. I know of many people who have cried today. Bawled their hearts out over ISD/ STD lines, at the death of the one person they love unconditionally.

As I watched the CNN IBN special, Jo and I have tears in our eyes at the end. (we were messaging each other)

Maybe its also the realisation that now, there is nothing or no one else to be passionate about, for all of us. Its truly, the death of an Icon.

The End, of an Era.


jyotsna balasubramanya said...

A very touching tribute Rush.. truly te end of an era! a godly figure to millions of his admirers.. te least we can do is to always keep him in our memories in te years to come .. goodbye to the legend of te kannada industry , who made us all proud "kannadigas"!

unforgiven said...

So, not being a kannadiga, I still don't get it.

Sure, even if he was Mahatma Gandhi, why would anyone 'cry' over his death? Did he personally help you or people that you are close to? Or did what he did, help you or people that you know and care for indirectly in some way?

In short, an entertainer is just that. Atleast that's what I would've thought?

What I found despicable was closing down of all of Bangalore because of a person's death. No matter, how accomplished.

arun said...

well for a moment i did feel sorry abt Mr.Rajkumar's death after reading your blog and i must confess that the article was one of the best that u ve written.. But the moment I think of the trip that I am abt to make to bangalore tomorrow, I cannnot but crib about the insanity behind the riots that have been triggered by his demise.Grief it may be for many of us but it is the public nuisance thus caused that irritates citizens like me...
And come to think of it,Raj kumar may have been a great soul, a a kind hearted man,etc.. But he has not been a social worker who did something great for the underprivileged.. Why should we cause public nuisance by mourning his death and shutting down public services?

Rush said...

@ Rahul,some things are not meant to be understood, don even try.

its a state in mourning, and for us he's not just an entertainer. there are more things that are despicable, perhaps the shutting down of a state in riots with d minority community being targeted is a good place to start..in gujarat.

And if u think even Mahatma Gandhi's death didnt deserve tears at his time, well then, wat else do u live for?

thanks kane, ee kothigallige en haelodhu?

Rush said...


I am extremely sorry that the death has inconvenienced your pubbing plans. Thats all I can say.

unforgiven said...

Okay, so Mahatma Gandhi was an extreme example. I'd have cried on his death, if I was there but that's because, his work, made a difference in my life, in the lives of those who I love.

I guess what I am trying to understand is, what did Raj Kumar do, which touched the lives of people to the point that he became so important to them? I doubt if just his making 200 great films would have had that much of an impact on people's lives?

I don't know enough, hence I am trying to understand. Either way, the shutting down the city is despicable because, its not voluntary. Yesterday I trudged close to 4 kilometers roundtrip, to get water for myself. When I talked to the shopkeeper, who was standing in front of the shop (I am a regular there, I get my food from that bakery like 5 days a week :P), he was like, "Man, what can we guys do. They'll kill us if we don't close the shop. They're attacking anyone who isn't closing down or even some people who are moving around on two wheelers." He got me my water and two lousy, dried up egg puffs, as if he were committing a crime. It was "evident" that he didn't want to close but he was simply, afraid. THAT is what is despicable.

Btw, on a side note, namma blog refresh madi. I have a new look on there.

Divs said...

Great write-up rush!!! Truly!! Though I can't say I'm a great fan of Rajkumar, I do understand the sentiments people feel.

For all those who dont understand or rather just dont want to understand... there is no point in us tryin to tell yu anything...

Some people are passionate... while some aint... If you can not understand their passion or the frustration they felt on not being able to see their idol for the last time... yu hv no right tellin them tht they are insane either... coz wen yu dnt hv it in yur heart to feel for another... yu r the insane one.

Yu ask, wht did he do... tht yu feel so much for him?? He gave them say 3 hours of relaxation, 3 hours of hope and probably a belief that they could make it too. Please dont tell me that motivation is useless... it may not have made a difference to yu... but it could hv saved many a life!!

All the more, take a step back, relax dude... yu hv the right to yur feelings... n they hv a right to theirs... if yu dont understand them... dnt... no one's askin yu to anyway ;)

DK said...

I would have grieved too had it not been for the unpropitious mob behaviour, had everything happened london style when princess di passed away (albiet more scandolously) i would have felt a genuine sense of grief. Now its all dissolved amidst anger and embarrasment at the supposed 'outcry'. Well, sigh, again this can happen only in India.

Thanks for stopping by Rashmi!

Also, unforgiven, the man has/had attained cult status not just being of the sheer volume of movies he's acted in or because of his versatility as an actor but also because of the public appeal his personality and deeds portray/ed. NTR and MGR from AP and TN are his exact counterparts minus the political dabble they managed.
He is an icon alright, but hysteric fanaticism is not.

unforgiven said...

Not understand why people can be passionate about an actor, is something I can live with.

Thanks for the attempts. For the moment, I'll just chalk this off as "+1 on the list of things I just don't get"

@ DK: I ideally would have not really even thought too much about it. Some great man died, people are grieving, understood. See'ing the reaction, geez, man, some people are just f'ing NUTS in this town.

Divs said...

n some people think they are the most sane ones... du-uh! just let it b!

Rush said...

those who live in glass houses, do not throw stones!! nuts are present everywher.. if u don like these nuts, move towns!! we wont miss u :)

unforgiven said...

@rush: That's what its all about, isn't it? You realize right that if we all just decided to move out, there would be no companies left in Bangalore and most of you guys wont be ABLE to live here because you'd starve to death.

Unless 'everyone' decided to open another pub or something.

I am sick and tired of getting this "if you don't like it, leave" attitude. We outsiders are running the economy of this town. Before this, it was a retirement city. Just like with all other small towns, if one had to really be able to have a career, they had to move out!

We move in, we give the people OF the town the ability to actually stay here and still have a career and all we get is constant "we don't need you, get out" looks from every third person on the street.

Yes, the there are people in this town that are totally f'ing nuts and yes, there are people who are f'ing nuts in every city. Unfortunately, the f'ing nuts of Bangalore make being nuts into a fine art.

Rajagopal said...

@unforgiven, I guess that is the biggest contribution Rajkumar has made to the society... intolerance. Though I live in Chennai I frequent Bangalore quite often, and chuck the outsiders our attitude is quite prevalent and not too subtle... First it starts with culture. Stop screening non kannada movies, channels et al and the downward spiral. continues... treat them badly while shopping and boarding busses and there is this give all the jobs to Kannadiga ppl (I am against reservations any where and in any way but based on language and region will simply destroy India the way it is). The riots are just an extreme manifestation of this malaise at the heart of the Kannadiga regionalist forces (and as rigthly pointed out Gujarat in the name of religion and Mumbai too)

I am sorry he was an icon that stood for division for too many ppl, though personally he may be not one of those vile ppl, they sure did invoke his name and he never did bother to stop them. Big irony that he is being compared to Gandhi...

He was a great singer though...

Rajagopal said...

I am sick and tired of getting this "if you don't like it, leave" attitude. We outsiders are running the economy of this town. Before this, it was a retirement city. Just like with all other small towns, if one had to really be able to have a career, they had to move out!

We move in, we give the people OF the town the ability to actually stay here and still have a career and all we get is constant "we don't need you, get out" looks from every third person on the street.

Now coming to this part, I did not pay attention to this earlier, it is the biggest piece of gas that I have read for a while. Really funny too, just shows your arrogance, more ppl like you and the extreme right Kannadiga fascists, whom I so much detest will be rightly considered just too.

May I ask you sir, why this favor to the rustic ppl in this small township called Bangalore...

Na... the truth is you need the town called Bangalore as much as Bangalore needs you. Both and indispensable too each other and learn to respect the land that feeds you in the sense you want the natives there to respect you for contributing to their economy, culture and society

Rush said...

hmm i must say i didnt quite expect to see filthy language on my blog.. not that i do mind it, but i do believe it reflects badly on the person using such language.

and rajagopal, i must say thanks for pointing out a few facts abt living in a different town..

now talkin abt stopping screening of non kannada movies, i haven heard that in a while, and am sure u wil be d first one to agree that blore actually showz other lang movies(tel,mall and tamil) while chennai wil never dream of showcasing a kannada movie.

and i didnt understand d point abt rajkumar standing for division of too many ppl.. wat division?

unforgiven said...

Unless you're from the north, you cannot know the kind of discrimination we have to face here. Its alright for a Kannadiga or a Tamilian to say that "Bangalore isn't that bad" but really? it is. Try seeing it from our eyes.

There is no bad language, there are bad thoughts, no bad language. Depending on the context, even the most innocent of words can seem deplorabale and vice versa.

@rajagopal: Maybe I am from too liberal a city. We have people from literally all over the country and hell, we don't even care to ask where they are from. For us, they're in Delhi, just like the rest of us, helping making it a better place to live, if they are good people, or helping making it worse, if they are bad people. People are judged on who they are, not where the come from. Hence, my irate reaction to Rush's comments. To be frank, it though, is the truth. The people of Bangalore don't really ever appreciate the fact that if it weren't for the 60%+ people of this city who are from outside, the IT industry here would have never boomed and (like the rest of us, who have to move to Bangalore to make something of their lives) they'd have to move out!

Shit man, I don't discount what's great about Bangalore. When I first heard about the fact that I'd have to move to Bangalore to get the only job I really thought was worth taking up, I was 'almost' thrilled, with the almost being there only because I'd have to move away from the people I love the most in this world, my family.

After I came here, it was nothing of the type that I had heard my Mom tell me about (from her experience of only *5* years ago). People seemed to have a vendetta against me just 'cause I didn't speak Kannada. I was ripped off several times, literally only for that reason. I was robbed (of 20k rupees). I was offered prostitutes, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, simply because I was at a petrol pump at 1am, getting petrol in what happened to be a Delhi registration car. Hell, I didn't even *look* anywhere other than the god damned meter.

Geez dude, you're telling me about respecting the city? A city that doesn't give a flying fuck about the anyone who is actually enabling it to become a metropolis rather than a 2 bit township that only retired people went to?

I came here with a very very positive view of the city. The city beat it out of me. Unfortunately, I am not really alone. Almost everyone I know from the North here, faces similar problems. Co-incidence?

With 50 out of the 100 people total that I know here?

So, think about this from the point of view of a northerner. Don't take your own experiences, atleast you don't stand out as a target to be swindled and exploited simply because its evident that you're from another region of the country.

You blame me for being arrogant? I came here full of hopes of finding the fantastic 'garden city' that my mom always used to talk about and found a city that, despite the fact I was paying 4 lakhs in tax to per year, resented my very existence in it. I came here to simply make something out of my career. I don't commit any crimes. I don't attack people on the streets for having their shops open when some great guy in the North died. Hell, I am barely even seen around the city. My life exists between work and home. Yet, I would give anything for a similar oppurtunity to be available to me in not just Delhi, even Bombay or Calcutta or fuck it, even Hyderabad.

Find out from people from the north on how things "really" are.

Then lets talk.

Rajagopal said...

Guess I was out of touch on the movies part, really glad to know that non Kannada movies are actually screened, my bad...

I would not want to be entangled in a Chennai vs Bangalore or Bangalore vs Delhi or Southie vs Northie flame war so just a comment, If only we Indians were more united...

coming back to Rajkumar and division , if I am not mistaken he led the movement to make Kannada compulsory to every one studying. My cousins are forced to study Kannada. The study part I like but the forced part I don’t(I studied Hindi not Tamil). More than that it is the perception that he was the figurehead of the Kannadiga chauvinist forces...I have to admit it is my perception (gained from my association with the city) and comments like "who made us all proud "kannadigas"!", nothing wrong while seeing it as an isolated comment, one ought to be proud of his roots and mother tongue, but when seen in the back drop of violence against liguistic minorities I am apprehensive, again it’s my perception and I don’t know for a fact, if I am wrong I will be most happy

unforgiven said...

Do we really need *another* issue to discriminate between us on?

First religion, then caste, now "language"? When does it end?

Will there be icons making us proud of our locality next? And then when they die, politicians will fuel violence to get points in that locality?

So I disgree a little bit rajgopal. First of all, we need to be proud of being "Humans" along with all the qualities that are associated with being that. Then "Indian" and then anything else.

Someone who stresses anything else to be more important, well, is a segregationist. I don't know if Raj Kumar did that, hence I won't get into that debate. It doesn't particularly seem very tolerant though to make any language compulsury in schools. Available, yes, but isn't it more of a student's (or his parent's, when he is young) choice whether he should study a particular language or not.

Cruel Intentions said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.