Whether you are a movie buff or not, in your teens, 20s, 30s, or above, at least for once, you would have seen the timeless movie ‘Tiranga,’ which was filled with patriotic fervor. Apart from its unforgettable dialogue and action scenes, the machismo and towering persona of Raj Kumar leave an indelible mark on the majority of the viewers. But don’t be flabbergasted by the fact that Rajkumar practised the same attitude in real life as he demonstrated in the role of Brigadier Suryadev Singh.
Kulbhushan Pandit, better known as Raj Kumar, was born on October 8, 1926, in a Kashmiri Pandit family. In the late 1940s, Kulbhushan moved to Bombay. He worked as a sub-inspector at the Mahim Police Station in Mumbai. The station was frequently visited by people associated with Bollywood. Once, Bollywood director Baldev Dubey came to the police station, where he was left amazed by Raj Kumar’s peculiar style of conversation.
Completely mesmerised by Raj Kumar, director Baldev offered him a role as an actor in his film “Shahi Bazar.” Although the film performed poorly at the box office, it marked the beginning of Raj Kumar’s cinematic career, which has only seen an upward trend.
On a personal front, Raj Kumar married Jennifer Pandit, an Anglo-Indian. He met her on a flight, where she worked as an air hostess. Later, she changed her name to Gayatri Kumar as per Hindu customs. The couple had three children: sons Puru Raaj Kumar and Panini Raaj Kumar, and daughter Vastavikta Pandit.
Raj Kumar’s unwavering confidence made every Bollywood superstar insecure
The cinema hall or theatre would often go hustling and bustling whenever Raj Kumar appeared on the big screen. His poised and confident presence overshadowed the other stars. Further, his flawless acting performance, dressing style, “white shoes,” and dialogues are still fresh in audiences’ minds.
Dialogues like – “Jani ye bacho ke khelne ki chij nhi hai, hath cut jaye to khoon nikal ata hai”, “Khas ki tumne hamey awaaj di hoti, to hum maut ki neend se bhi uth kar chale ate” and “Jani, hum tumhe marenge aur jaroor marenge lekin wo bandook bhi humari hogi, goli bhi hamari hogi aur waqt bhi hamara hoga“.
His larger-than-life persona was not limited to the big screen; he carried the same attitude in real life. But his confident demeanour would often throw his colleagues off track. There are ample stories that created the wrongful notion of him being a rude, arrogant, and eccentric person who was tough to work with. Rather than yielding to these negative stereotypes or confronting them, Raj Kumar remained undeterred and, overtime, became the “Bahubali” of Bollywood.
Rather than seeking validation from Bollywood, at a later stage, he started feeling cut off from the industry altogether on account of its hollow practices. His film song “Yeh duniya, yeh mehfil mere kaam ki nahi!” nicely captures his feelings towards Bollywood.
Controversies that wrongfully stereotyped him as outspoken and arrogant person
Once, he refused to act in the popular film Zanjeer because he didn’t like the fragrance of oil that director Prakash Mehra used to apply. When director Mehra came to cast him for this movie, Raj Kumar categorically said, “You smell of Bijnor oil. Let alone doing a film, I cannot tolerate standing with you even for a minute.”
Later, the role went to Amitabh Bachchan, which proved to be a major success in his cinematic career. According to the director’s choice, Rajinikanth was supposed to work in the Tiranga movie. However, it was reported that Rajinikanth refused to work with Raj Kumar because of his peculiar and “arrogant” way of working. Although Nana Patekar is also hailed in the same league as Raj Kumar in terms of ‘confident’ demeanour, it is claimed that both Raj Kumar and Nana Patekar would often quarrel on the set of Tiranga.
Similarly, on two different occasions, he gave strong and harsh replies to Amitabh Bachchan and Salman Khan. Without mincing his words, he once mocked Amitabh Bachchan’s attire. Ridiculing Amitabh’s court, Raj Kumar remarked that he needed to get some curtains. When Salman Khan attempted to play smart on Raj Kumar, Bollywood’s Jani showed mirror to the young and arrogant Salman Khan.
At a film party, Salman Khan acted as if he didn’t recognise who Raj Kumar was. Feeling strongly at his disrespect, Raj Kumar publicly lambasted Salman Khan. He said, “Barkhurdar! “Apne baap se puchna ki mein kon hu?”
However, those who knew him well always concluded that he was wrongfully branded as an arrogant person. On the contrary, he was someone who never allowed anyone to play with his self-esteem. This was a major reason for his confrontation with Raj Kapoor. The “showman” of the film industry developed enmity with Raj Kumar. Reacting harshly to Raj Kapoor’s insulting remarks, Raj Kumar refused to act in “Mera Naam Joker.”
Additionally, Raj Kumar felt so despised by the hollowness of the film industry that he did not want anyone from the film industry to attend his funeral. All in all, if there is any phrase that can sum up his unparalleled charisma, it will definitely be “Live life king sizem industry to attend his funeral. All in all, if there is any phrase that can sum up his unparalleled charisma, it will definitely be “Live life king size.”
Just like a coconut, he was misunderstood as a tough guy, but those who knew him well describe Raj Kumar as a confident, no-nonsense guy who used to despise Bollywood’s shallow way of doing things. Raj Kumar was the Hindi film industry’s Bahubali, remaining true on and offscreen and always showing Bollywood lackeys their place whenever they tried to play smart on him.
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