October 8, 1926
|Died||July 3, 1996 (aged 69)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
|Years active||1951-1996 (His death)|
Raaj Kumar (Hindi: राज कुमार, Urdu: راج کُمار), born Kulbushan Pandit, 8 October 1926 – 3 July 1996) was an Indian actor in Bollywood movies. Raaj Kumar started out as sub-inspector of Mumbai police in the late 1940s before he turned to acting with the unnoticed 1952 film Rangili. He shot to fame with the Oscar-nominated 1957 film Mother India and went onto star in over 70 Bollywood films in a career that spanned over four decades. He was known for his special style of dialogue delivery and for having a gravelly voice which made him an icon in the industry. Apart from his unique style of dialogue delivery which became his trademark, he was known for his most famous catchphrase Jaani (beloved) which he frequently used in many of his films and also addressed people with the same word.
He was born as "Kulbhushan Pandit" in Balochistan, Pakistan though originally, he is a Kashmiri Hindu of Saraswat Brahmin caste. In the late 40's he moved to India where he became sub-inspector of the Mumbai police. He married Gayatri in the 1960s with whom he had three children, two sons named Puru Raajkumar (a Bollywood actor), Panini Raajkumar and a daughter named Vastavikta Raajkumar, who recently made her debut in 2006 film Eight Shani.
In the early 1950s, he changed his name to Raaj Kumar, quit his job as a police inspector and turned to acting. He made his acting debut in Rangili (1952) which was unnoticed. After acting in a few more films in the next five years which failed to launch his career, his shot to fame in Mehboob Khan's classic Oscar-nominated blockbuster film Mother India (1957). His performance in the film as a poor farmer who loses his arms in an accident and then abandons his wife (played by Nargis) was widely appreciated and he went onto play many leading and supporting roles throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
His most notable performances were in hit films like Shararat (1959) with Kishore Kumar, Paigham (1959), Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayi (1960), Gharana (1961), Dil Ek Mandir (1963), Waqt (1965), Hamraaz (1967), Neel Kamal (1968), Pakeezah (1972), Lal Patthar (1971), Heer Ranjha (1971), Hindustan Ki Kasam (1973), Ek Se Badh Kar Ek (1976), and Karmyogi (1978). He reached the peak of his career in the mid 1960s when he picked up Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Awards for Dil Ek Mandir and Waqt.
During the 1980s Raaj Kumar experimented playing central supporting or villain roles such as a father, uncle, friend, policeman or an elderly mobster. His most notable films during this period included Chambal Ki Kasam (1980), Kudrat (1981), Ek Nai Paheli (1984), Marte Dam Tak (1987), Jung Baaz (1989) and Police Public (1990).
In 1991 he appeared alongside another legendary actor Dilip Kumar in Saudagar. The film was a huge success due to the hype of seeing both actors onscreen for the first time in 3 decades. Raaj and Dilip Kumar had previously appeared together playing brothers in Paigham (1959). His last big hit was Tiranga. This movie is almost always played in national channels of India during Independence and Republic days.
Due to his many years of smoking, Raaj Kumar started suffering from a throat disease in the early 1990s which reduced his signature trademark voice to a whisper and caused his health to decline. His last film appearance was in God and Gun (1995) before his death at the age of 69 in July 1996. He died a few months before his son Puru Raajkumar made his debut in Bal Brahmachari which was released later that year. It was dedicated to his memory.
In the Hindi film Bulandi, Raaj Kumar uttered a line which has since come to symbolise his own life as well as defiance against norms.
"Humko mita sake, zamaane mein dum nahi. Hum se zamaana hain, Zamaane se hum nahin."
The world is not strong enough to obliterate us. The world exists because of me, not me because of the world.
"Na talwaar ki dhar se. Na Goliyon ki bauchaar se. Banda darta hai so sirf parvar digar se" Neither the sharpness of a sword. Nor the rain of bullets. Only thing that scares me is the might of God.
The following dialogues from Waqt is much imitated and has become a hallmark of his acting style:
1. "Yeh bachon ke khelne ki cheez nahin! Haath kat jaaye toh khoon nikal aata hai"
This is no toy for children to play with! If one's hand gets cut, it bleeds.
2. "Jinke ghar sheeshe ke hon, woh dusron par pathar nahi phenka karte"
They, whose houses are of glass, should not throw stones at others.
"Aap kay paaon dekhay, bohot haseen hain, Inhain zameen per mat utariyay ga, melay ho jaaengay" was a remarkable dialogue from Pakeezah.
I saw your feet. They are very beautiful. Please don't alight on the ground with them. They will get soiled.