The death of Kannada Movie icon Dr Rajkumar on April 12, exactly one year ago, created a massive void in the industry.
Though the thespian had moved away from acting in films, his sheer presence was an inspiration and guiding light for several film personalities. He grew larger than just a star, and was seen as a representative of Kannada Pride.
His family members -- prominent in and out of the film industry -- always benefited from his guidance, and he was seen as a model for righteousness and simplistic living.
Kannadigas all over the world were overwhelmingly shocked over the death of Dr Rajkumar and many ardent fans of the actor still haven't come to terms with his absence. They see him everyday by visiting the Samadhi near the Kanteerava Studios. His last rites were held at a spot of around 3/4th of an acre near the famous studios where many of his films were shot. Over the last year, people have been regularly pouring in large numbers to pay their respects to the departed. Even tour operators have included the Samadhi spot -- is near the city's Outer Ring Road -- as a regular tourist spot.
The members of Dr Rajkumar's family regularly visit his Samadhi, even daily when they are in Bangalore. Shivaraj Kumar makes it a point to visit the Samadhi daily in the evenings, preferably after finishing his day's shooting.
The Karnataka state government has decided to create a memorial for this great actor and has allotted Rs 5 crores for this poject in the 2007-08 budget. Dr Rajkumar's family members had earlier thought of handling this memorial, but the state government was insistent that his last rites and the memorial should be under its control and handling. Already, many materials related to the actor are under the possession of his family and public announcements are being made to obtain more important memorabilia, likely to be in possession of his friends and fans.
Many functions have been organised in connection with the actor's first year death anniversary function, and Telugu film star Pawan Kalyan will appear in one of these functions where 5 of his heroines and 5 of his directors will be honoured. A blood donation camp has also been organised. The police are also taking extra care to avoid the sort of untoward incident that happened during last year (eight people were killed during Dr Rajkumar's cremation) and security has been beefed up.
As for as the film industry is concerned, Kannada cinema is gradually returning to the basics, and is understanding the value of the story and a neat narration. A neat presentation of the story always characterised a Dr Rajkumar film. Any deviation from these elements were certainly recipes of disaster, the actor had thought. He acted in original films and rejected all offers for remakes.
Now, with the success of original films like Jothe Jotheyalli, Mungaru Male and Duniya, it seems the story element and focus on originally conceived scripts has now become a driving force among Kannada filmmakers. Many remake ideas are being rejected by filmmakers stressing on originality. Puneet Raj Kumar's recent film Arrasu, announced before the death of his father, is now running towards a 100-day run. Dr Rajkumar had approved the film's story.
Puneet is also writing a book on his father. The book is in English, and will be translated into regional languages. Puneet says about a fourth of the book is done, and hopes to finish it in a few months.
One year after his tragic passing, it's safe to say Kannada cinema is indeed trying to pay tribute to Dr Rajkumar's legacy.