A known face in Indian cinema, Kannada actor and singer Rajkumar was born on April 24, 1929, as Singanalluru Puttaswamayya Muthuraju. Widely acknowledged as one of India’s finest actors, Rajkumar is still fondly and popularly referred to as Nata Saarvabhouma (Emperor of Actors), Bangarada Manushya (Man of Gold), Vara Nata (Gifted Actor) and Rajanna (Brother Raj).
Today would have been his 88th birthday, and the team over at Google decided to commemorate his anniversary with a vibrantly painted doodle of a larger-than-life Rajkumar beaming at a crowd of moviegoers from the big screen where his legacy lives on. This is a most fitting doodle for an artiste whose career spanned over 200 films, starting from 1954 in the film Bedara Kannapa to Shabdavedhi being his last in 2000. He began his film career, though, under the illustrious Gubbi Veeranna in the Gubbi Drama Company.
Awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1983, Rajkumar was also an avid Carnatic music performer, and recipient of numerous prestigious awards such as three National Awards (one as a playback singer as well), many Karnataka state film awards, South Filmfare awards, the NTR National Award and the coveted Dadasaheb Phalke Award for lifetime contribution to Indian cinema in 1995.
Rajkumar’s off-screen life was equally dramatic as his on-screen one. In 2000, he was kidnapped from his farm house in Gajanur, along with his son-in-law and two others, by none other than Veerappan and was released 108 days later. He died of cardiac arrest in Bangalore on April 12, 2006, at the age of 77.
Did you know, the much loved Rekha made her debut with him in Operation Jackpotnalli CID 999? Rajkumar is also the first Indian actor to have played the role of James Bond in Jedara Bale.
According to the Google Doodle team’s brief, there were several drafts of the sketch before they zeroed in on this one. “Early drafts of today’s Doodle featured different interpretations of the beloved star’s work. The first illustrates Rajkumar singing and holding the white bird from Kasturi Nivasa, a quintessential Kannada drama and a cornerstone of Rajkumar’s cinematic legacy. Another Doodle draft showcases an array of iconic characters Rajkumar played over a half century of acting”, the brief states.