Film actors Rajinikanth, Chiranjeevi, Ambareesh, Minister Umashree, Dr Rajkumar’s wife Parvathamma, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Minister Roshan Baig, Mayor Shanthakumari and others at the unveiling of the Dr Rajkumar memorial in Bengaluru on Saturday | sudhakara jain
BENGALURU: Movie star Rajinikanth turned emotional as memories of Rajkumar, his hero, flooded his mind on Saturday.
He arrived at the memorial, at Kanteerava Studios, at 9.30 am, well in time for the event. The memorial was inaugurated in the presence of Telugu actor-politician Chiranjeevi and Food Minister Dinesh Gundurao, besides other VIPs and the Rajkumar family.
Rajinikanth narrated a story. “God Brahma created a raindrop and sent it through the clouds, and the raindrop dropped on a punyabhoomi, a land called Karnataka, with goddess Saraswati’s blessings,” he began.
He then compared Rajkumar to a horse that began its journey in 1954 with the film Bedara Kannappa (Kannappa of the Hunters). Saints like Kanakadasa, Purandaradasa and Raghavendra Swami, and mythological characters like Ravana, Mahishasura and Hiranayakashupu enjoyed rides on the horse. James Bond too joined them, he said, referring to the variety of roles Rajkumar had essayed in his five-decade-long career.
“I don’t know why Basavanna and Bhakta Ambareesha could not ride this horse. This was a horse that shouldn’t be compared to anyone, including myself,” he said, as an equally emotional audience applauded him. Just when the horse was tired and wanted to descend onto earth to be with its parents, the Vanadevate (forest goddess) desired to see it, he continued, referring to Rajkumar’s hostage days after bandit Veerappan kidnapped him in 2000. “He had to be there for 108 days,” he said.
Rajinikanth, who had adored Rajkumar all his life, said he had enjoyed the good fortune of spending time with the Kannada icon in his last days.
“When I was 11 and in primary school, I saw him near a temple near the Kempambudi Lake. I walked up and took his autograph. I have not sought an autograph from anyone else after that day,” he said.
He also narrated other experiences. “Once when I took him out, the car broke down. While we waited, all kinds of people came and greeted him respectfully,” Rajinikanth said.
Rajkumar later told Rajinikanth the people were honouring the art in him, and not him as a person.
“He was a good child to his parents, a good husband to his wife, and a good father to his children. He was a good artiste to all his fans and a respected citizen,” he said.
He also praised Rajkumar as a man who had no greed or political ambition. “I could not make it in time when he died but watched on TV the homage and the chaos. Today he lies here peacefully. I request all his fans to watch him quietly,” Rajinikanth said.
“Rajkumar will now be elevated to the status of a rishi and will bless you all. Today it is a memorial, and it will slowly become a temple. There will be miracles. This is true,” he said.
Saroja Devi, Rajkumar’s leading lady in several films, said, “I worked with so many heroes but never had I come across a hero who behaved like an ordinary man in real life. Today I see Rajkumar’s qualities in his wife Parvathamma.”
Chiranjeevi said Rajkumar had remained his inspiration. “He was the epitome of simplicity. It is hard to come by another like him,” he said. Raghavendra Rajkumar, who spoke on behalf of his mother, said, “My father had an intuition two months before his death that he was about to leave the world. He wanted to live happily during his last days and spent a lot of time with the family.”
One desire was to visit Mantralaya. “We could not take him because of security reasons. To his luck, the swamijis from the mutt visited him,” he said.
Even on the day he died, he had done his yoga and sung songs, he recalled.
Late Start to Gala
The evening tribute to Rajkumar, at Palace Grounds, began an hour late.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah led a galaxy of VIPs on stage. Actors Ambareesh and Umashree, ministers H Anjaneya, K J George and Roshan Baig, actress Jayamala, and the thespian’s family were all in attendance. Sridhar and team sang the invocation, followed by a presentation of the state anthem by Akul Balaji, Priyanka Chandra and team. Classic Rajkumar numbers such as Shivappa kayo thande, Gangi ninmele nange manasaithe and Eri mele eri were then sung and elaborated in dance.