The doyen of Kannada cinema Rajkumar has now returned to the studio, not to star in one more classic, but for ever. Rajkumar passed away on April 12 in Bangalore. He was 78. In a career that spanned 45 years, Dr Raj, as he was fondly called, acted in 205 films, ranging from the mythological to social dramas. He was also a playback singer and won a National Award for the song Nadamaya from Jeevana Chaitra. Staying away from politics and from acting in any non-Kannada films, Dr Rajkumar enjoyed the sort of popularity that could come only from immense talent and touching humility.
The mortal remains of the citizen extraordinaire of Karnataka were buried with State honours at the premises of the government-owned Kanteerava Studio near Nandini Layout (off Tumkur Road) at 5.45 p.m. on April 13 amidst chaos and violence indulged in by some of his fans.
Although the funeral of several national leaders have been held in Delhi and other places with solemnity and orderliness, it was not to be so in the case of Dr. Rajkumar. In the saturnalia of violence, of the kind unknown to the city in recent years, five persons, including a reserve police constable, were killed.
What should have been a tearful farewell for the bereaved family and his friends and associates, was marred by volatile fans, who had gate-crashed into the studio ground.
Violence stalked the cortege carrying the body of the superstar, which struggled to plough through milling crowds to traverse the 14-km distance from Sri Kanteerava Stadium to Kanteerava Studio.
His eldest son Shivarajkumar performed the last rites guided by priests from the ISKCON Temple and the Gayathri Temple, Yeshwanthur.
While Shivarajkumar was performing the last rites, his mother Parvathamma Rajkumar, brothers Raghavendra and Puneet, brothers-in-law Chinne Gowda and Ram Kumar, stood besides him.
As the casket containing the body was being lowered into the grave, members of the family as well as fans put three fistfuls of mud on it as per the ritual.
Meanwhile, lakhs of grief-stricken fans bid adieu to their idol. The swelling crowd, which had been gathering at the funeral venue since morning, did not easily allow even the Rajkumars near the burial spot.
Earlier, the flower-bedecked van at the head of the cortege left the Kanteerava Stadium where the body was kept to allow fans to pay their last respect just before 12.30 p.m.
The funeral procession passed through K.R. Circle, Palace Road, T. Chowdiah Road, Cauvery Theatre Junction, Sadashivnagar, Yeshwantapur and Goraguntepalya before reaching the studio near Nandini Layout by 4.45 p.m. The cortege, which entered the studio premises, was not allowed to move further by the surging crowd. After much pleading by Dr. Rajkumar'ssons, the mob allowed the van carrying the body to reach the burial area. However, it took 20 minutes to bring the coffin to the ground.