25 April 2013

His Master's Voice-7

Singanalluru Puttaswamayya Muthuraju (Kannada:ಸಿಂಗಾನಲ್ಲೂರು ಪುಟ್ಟಸ್ವಾಮಯ್ಯ ಮುತ್ತುರಾಜು ) (24 April 1929 – 12 April 2006),] known mononymously by his screen name Rajkumar (Kannada:ರಾಜಕುಮಾರ್) was an actor and singer in the Kannada film industry. Dr.Raj is considered a cultural icon of Kannada, where he is also known as Rajanna, Natasarvabhouma (emperor of acting), Gaana Gandharva (singer in the court of Gods), and as Annavru (beloved elder brother).

A method actor, Rajkumar entered the film industry at the age of eight and got his first break as a lead in the 1954 film Bedara Kannappa and went on to work in over 220 films. At the age of 71, he was kidnapped in Gajanur (the place where he was brought up) by forest brigand Veerappan during a 108-day ordeal when he was released. He died of cardiac arrest at his residence in Bangalore on 12 April 2006. 

Rajkumar was also a singer, who sang many film as well as devotional songs [citation needed]. He won the National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer in 1992 for the song "Naadamaya" from the movie Jeevana Chaitra. It is a classical song in Thodi Raga.

He was trained in classical music while in Gubbi Veeranna's drama troupe which had a requirement for everyone to have at least a working knowledge of the classical music[citation needed]. He performed a song in the movie Mahishasura Mardini (this was picturized on Narasimharaju, a comedian). However, he did not become a full-fledged singer until his song "Yare Koogadali" from the movie Sampathige Sawal in 1974. Prior to this, Rajkumar's songs were mostly sung by P. B. Srinivas After which, he sang in most of his movies and in many private albums, which were mainly devotional albums. His song renditions ranged from pure classical to disco and fast numbers to pathos[citation needed]. His fans of the days of black-and-white movies in 1960s and 1970s, believe he was actually P. B. Srinivas, who did the playback singing for most of Rajkumar's movies, until Rajkumar himself started to sing. P. B. Srinivas continued singing for him in many of the movies in which Rajkumar starred in double/triple roles.

His songs about Kannadigas, Kannada language and culture, such as "Jenina Holeyo" from Chalisuva Modagalu, "Maanavanagi Huttidmele" from Jeevana chaitra and "Huttidare Kannada Naadalli Hutta Beku" from the movie Aakasmika. He sang a complete English song called "If You Come Today" ("Tick Tick Tick") in one of his Bond films - Operation Diamond Racket in 1978. This song became an internet meme in India following Rajkumar's demise in 2006.

In his final years, Rajkumar lent his voice to a few other actors and sang many background solos. One such song was for the 1993 movie Muddina Maava, wherein he provided playback to the singer S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, who acted in the movie. This was a rare occasion where an actor sang for a singer. Kalidasa's shlokas (songs) like "Maanikya Veena" and ghazal based songs like "Sadaa Kannale", "Kanneera Dhaare" and "Yaava Kaviyu". In addition to his film work, he lent his voice for many devotional songs on Hanumantha and Sri Raghavendra Swami.

In his film career, Rajkumar received nine Karnataka State Film Awards, ten South Filmfare Awards, two National Film Awards and a National Film Award for Best Playback Singer. He received in 2002 the NTR National Award. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Mysore, and is a recipient of the Padma Bhushan. and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award.

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