Remembering how Rajkumar kept away from politics

The 91st birthday of matinee idol, the late Rajkumar, which falls on Wednesday comes in the midst of the election season and those associated with him remember how he always kept his distance from politics.

He refused to enter politics, despite immense pressure.

Veteran Kannada filmmaker and a close associate of the late actor, S.K. Bhagavan (of the Dorai-Bhagavan fame), recalled: “Dr. Rajkumar had to hide in a forest guesthouse, 21 km away from Ranipet in Tamil Nadu, because of pressure from leaders of the Janata Party in Karnataka and other parties to contest against Indira Gandhi in the bypolls to the Chikkamagaluru Lok Sabha constituency in 1978.” When Ms. Gandhi decided to contest from Chikkamagaluru, Janata Party leaders wanted to field a “formidable candidate” to oppose her and thought Dr. Rajkumar was a great choice since he transgressed boundaries of caste, creed, and culture.

“National leaders of political parties made a beeline to Dr. Rajkumar’s Kodambakkam residence and tried to persuade him to fight against her,” he said.

Dr. Rajkumar who never cherished any ambition of becoming a political leader, was disturbed by this. Finally his brother Varadappa suggested that he stay in a forest guesthouse near Ranipet along with filmmaker Vikram Srinivas, who was also close to the actor. “To avoid public glare, Mr. Srinivas used to travel to Ranipet by bus to fetch milk, buns and bread and other daily needs for Dr. Rajkumar,” remembered Mr. Bhagavan.

The actor returned to the then Madras only after the deadline for filing nomination ended.

According to Mr. Bhagavan, even earlier in 1978, there were attempts to rope in Dr. Rajkumar, who was at the peak of his popularity. He recalled him saying later that he did not wish to be “used as a weapon” to defeat anyone and not for any positive contribution.

The Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy and the Department of Information and Public Relations, has organised a programme to celebrate the day at Ravindra Kalakshetra.


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