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Home > Movies > Southern Spice

When Rajkumar sang…

MD RIti | April 20, 2006 17:10 IST

RajkumarPanavidu panavidu ninna praanava, Padeduko padeduko ninna preethiya...
(Do not hesitate to place your life as the stake, in the contest to win your love)

These were the first lines of a catchy number that Rajkumar sang for his son Puneet's debut film Appu. His fans were most reassured when they heard it. For, it proved to them that Rajkumar had lost neither his voice, nor the beauty of his soul, during the 108 days that he was Veerappan's hostage. Appu was out some months after Rajkumar's release.

Farewell, Dr Rajkumar

Rajkumar was never formally trained as a classical vocalist. Nor did he even sing for himself before he became a superstar. But, he had a powerful voice and genuine musical talent, both of which were honed during the beginning of his career. This was because Rajkumar began as Singanallur Muthuraj, the professional company theatre actor, long before he got into movies. Company theatre, in those days, more than half a century ago, required stage actors to sing their own songs.

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Interestingly, when Rajkumar got into movies, and gradually, ever so slowly, gained stardom, another singer sang all his songs. This was P B Sreenivos, who actually became famous as Rajkumar's voice. Until some smart filmmakers thought that getting Rajkumar to sing for himself would be a new box office draw. Little did they realize the singing force they would unleash.

When Rajkumar was captured

Rajkumar first sang for himself in the movie Sampathige Savaal as late as 1974, a full 20 years after his first film. This was actually much after the years, in the 60s, when he sometimes had up to 10 releases in a year. He sang just one song Yaare Koogaadali. It became an instant hit, for many reasons. Its lyrics were anti-establishment, for one.

However, Kannada film music connoisseurs discovered that Rajkumar had a very distinctive voice. It was powerful, full of expression and had some strange flat overtones that were most appealing. Rajkumar's pronunciation was also very distinctive and easily recognized by fans. And, by fans, I refer to the real Rajkumar fan of the 1970s, who is probably a dignified senior citizen today.

'He was like a father to me'

Suddenly, poor Sreenivos was out of business. No Rajakumar movie watcher of that era wanted to hear anyone else sing for the star again. As Rajkumar aged, his movies reduced in number, with rarely more than two releases a year. But they were worth waiting for as Rajkumar movies generally maintained a certain standard of production and story value. And then, there was the music to look forward to.

What I remember most, even today, is the mood that Rajkumar could infuse into his voice, depending upon the lyrics and the song. There was Beladingalaagi Baa (Come to me like the moonlight), from Huliya Haalina Mevu, which was melodious and romantic. There was the vibrant Yellelli Nodali Ninnanne Kaanuve (I only see you everywhere) from Naa Ninna Mareyalaare. And even though Rajkumar was in his late forties when he bared his well toned, muscular body and sang Thanuvu Manavu Indu Nindaagide (both my mind and body have become yours as of today), the passion in his voice heightened the sexuality of the song filmed under a waterfall.

Rajkumar's best songs

Rajkumar even sang a song completely in English: If you come today, it's too early, from the film Operation Diamond Rocket, which was a sort of take off on the James Bond thriller Diamonds are Forever. A lot of other songs had some English words thrown in, never mind that Rajkumar's accent was pure Kannadiga. It was part of the fun and the experience to giggle over his funny English accent.

Rajkumar himself was, of course, most happy about the many devotional albums he released, on Ayyappa, his own favourite Guru Raghavendra and his favourite saints. These albums also did phenomenally well. Many fans of his music would have tears in their eyes when the notes of Idu Yaaru Bareda Katheyo Nanagaagi Banda Vyatheyo (who wrote this sad story of my life) blared out from a roadside tea stall, during the time Rajkumar was Veerappan's hostage. The wealth of emotion in his voice in that song still sears our souls.

The best of Rajkumar

Rajkumar's last film, Shabdavedi, has some songs like Ohoho Prema Kashmira and Thayyare Thayya, that can be listened to over and over again. His last songs were all for his sons' movies. Two of his sons, Shivaraj and Puneet, are popular film stars. Rajkumar would often sing one song for each of their releases. Shivaraj dancing to Rajkumar's Jagave Ondu Rana Ranga (the world is a battlefield) is hard to forget even now, almost 20 years after its release.

Down the years, many singers have tried hard to copy his voice. But nobody ever sounds quite like him. His voice and intonation remain uniquely his. Most of his serious listeners can easily identify Rajkumar's voice. It seems truly tragic to think that that is one singer who will sing no more.

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Number of User Comments: 4


Raj’s voice had the smoothness & depth comparable to PB Srinivos. His voice was capable of greater vivacity, noticeable in songs like Thai Thai Bangari, ...

Posted by bs ramakrishna

Sub: Re: When Rajkumar Sang

I share most of the sentiments expressed by the author, except for a factual inaccuracy. "Rajkumar first sang for himself in the movie Sampathige Savaal ...

Posted by Nagaraja.S

Sub: rajanna

rajanna is great actor & great singer.

Posted by rakesh gowda

Sub: Dr Rajanna is simply great

Annavru simply great !

Posted by prakash



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