HOME  |  MOVIES  |  FEEDBACK
Raaj Kumar

Dinesh Raheja

"Aapke paon dekhe. Bahut haseen hain. Inhe zameen pe mat utariyega. Maile ho jaayenge (Your feet are beautiful. Do not let them on the floor. They will get soiled)." --- Pakeezah

"Jinke ghar sheeshey ke hote hain woh doosron ke ghar pe patthar nahin phenka karte (Those whose houses are made of glass don't throw stones)." --- Waqt

Crowd-pleasing, ceetee[whistle]-evoking lines. That was Raaj Kumar's gravel-voiced display of vocal pyrotechnics. He defined aplomb. He inspired writers to pen bombastic lines; he also enthused them to conceive larger-than-life characters to suit his image as a personality suffused with wit and sarcasm.

10 famous songs on Raaj Kumar
Song Film Singer
 Chaand aahein
 Phool Aur
 Choo lene do  naazuk hoton ko  Kaajal  Mohammed Rafi
 Hey, neele
 gagan ke tale
 Humraaz  Mahendra Kapoor
 Aaja tujhko
 pukare mera
 Neel Kamal  Mohammed Rafi
 Yeh duniya
 yeh mehfil
 Heer Ranjha  Mohammed Rafi
 Chalo dildaar
 chalo, chand ke
 paar chalo
 Pakeezah  Mohammed Rafi,
 Lata Mangeshkar
 Dhol sajna, tu
 bhi aaja
 Maryada  Mohammed Rafi
 Unke khayal
 aaye to aake
 Lal Patthar  Mohammed Rafi
 Har taraf ab yahi  afsane hai  Hindustan Ki Kasam  Manna Dey
 Imli ka boota  Saudagar  Mohammed Aziz,  Sudesh Bhosle

Raaj Kumar made a quiet entry into Hindi films with Rangeeli opposite Rehana in 1952.

For the first five years of his career, the one-time police inspector with antecedents from Baluchistan in Pakistan relied on grit to keep him in the public eye. After some obscure films like Aabshar opposite Nimmi, Ghamand, co-starring Shyama, and Lakhon Mein Ek with Asha Mathur, he struck gold with Mother India in 1957.

In this Mehboob Khan classic, Raaj Kumar played Nargis's husband who loses his hands in an accident. Anguished at his inability to provide for his family, he slips out of his house, never to be seen again.

After Mother India, Raaj Kumar was flooded with roles. He didn't get the best, but carved his niche. In Paigham (1959), he played Dilip Kumar's elder brother and Pandhari Bai's husband with a marriageable daughter to boot. As the exploited but obedient mill worker who rebels only at the end, he stood his ground.

As he did in the Shammi Kapoor-Mala Sinha starrer Ujala (1959), where he played a grey character wooed by Kum Kum. Ardhangini (1959) and Shararat (1959), his first two ventures with Meena Kumari, gave no indication that the pair would go on to make memorable films together. In the early 1960s, Raaj Kumar made a popular pair with Meena Kumari (Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayi, Dil Ek Mandir, Kaajal).

Raaj Kumar had to wait for B R Chopra's Waqt (1965), to join the topmost echelon of stars. In this multi-starrer directed by Yash Chopra, Sunil Dutt and Raaj Kumar vied for Sadhana's affections. Sunil won Sadhana's love, but Raaj Kumar got the limelight with his dialogue delivery.

Sunil Dutt clashed with Raaj Kumar once again in another B R Chopra film, Humraaz. Dutt had an audience-friendly role as the bachelor who offers to marry the frail widow, Vimi. But Raaj Kumar stole the show as Vimi's husband mistakenly presumed to be dead. This despite the fact that for a sizeable portion of the film, all one saw of Raaj Kumar was his shoes!

Next, he stole the thunder from Manoj Kumar in the popular song, Tujhko pukare mera pyaar in Neel Kamal. Interestingly, his character had some parallels with Humraaz. Playing a tortured spirit pining for his love Waheeda Rehman (reincarnated and married to Manoj Kumar), Raaj Kumar was theatricality personified.

Difficult to classify as hero or strong character actor in many 1960s' films, Raaj Kumar enjoyed a romantic renaissance on screen in his third decade in films in the seventies (soon after he tied the knot with his girlfriend Gayatri).

A year after Heer Ranjha, Pakeezah and Lal Patthar were released within weeks of each other. Pakeezah was designed as Kamal Amrohi's paean to Meena Kumari. Still, he made his mark in the wish-fulfilment scene when he takes Meena Kumari before his infuriated father while the rest of the family quake in their shoes.

In Lal Patthar, he played the bordering-on-insanity zamindar who, instigated by his jealous mistress (Hema Malini), suspects his wife's (Rakhee's) fidelity. Possibly his best performance, Raaj Kumar played his character with a hint of manic delirium. He admitted later that some of his character's eccentric traits were similar to his own.

His eccentricities are part of film lore now. He wore bright brocade outfits at public gatherings. He addressed everyone as Jaani (beloved); refused Zanjeer because he did not like Prakash Mehra's face; suggested a career in films to "the attractive lady" Zeenat Aman when she was at the peak of her career.

In the late 1970s and 1980s, Raaj Kumar's assignments dwindled. Known for his choosiness, he consented to do only those films offering him the pivotal role. He worked with new directors like Esmayeel Shroff (Bulandi, Police Public) and Mehul Kumar (Marte Dum Tak, Tirangaa), showcasing his flair for rhetoric.

Veteran Prakash Mehra's last-ditch effort to work with Raaj Kumar resulted in two resounding flops: Muqaddar Ka Badshah (1987) and Mohabbat Ke Dushman (1988).

Subhash Ghai then braved bringing ageing lions Raaj Kumar and Dilip Kumar together in Saudagar and the crowds roared in approval. A throat disease reduced Raaj Kumar's voice to a whisper. Just when rumours flew that the illness was fatal, Raaj Kumar's golden voice was consigned to silence in 1996.

Raaj Kumar may not have always played the romantic lead, but he was that rare star who was a draw right to the end.

Raaj Kumar's Landmark Films
Year Film Co-stars
1957 Mother India Nargis, Sunil Dutt, Rajendra Kumar
1959 Paighaam Dilip Kumar, Pandhari Bai
1960 Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayi Meena Kumari
1963 Dil Ek Mandir Meena Kumari
1965 Kaajal Meena Kumari
1965 Waqt Sadhana, Sunil Dutt
1967 Humraaz Vimi, Sunil Dutt
1968 Neel Kamal Waheeda Rehman, Manoj Kumar
1970 Heer Ranjha Priya Rajvansh
1972 Pakeezah Meena Kumari
1972 Lal Patthar Hema Malini, Rakhee
1981 Bulandi Asha Parekh, Danny Denzongpa
1991 Saudagar Dilip Kumar, Vivek Mushran, Manisha Koirala
1993 Tirangaa Nana Patekar

You might also want to read:
Kishore Kumar: The Master's Voice
(c) 1996 - 2002 India Limited. All Rights Reserved.