Various artists named Raj Kumar
(left to right) Dr. Rajkumar, (Jaani) Raaj Kumar, Raj Kumar, Raj(u) Kumar & Raj Kumar Gupta
Raj Kumar (राजकुमार) is a popular first name meaning Prince. We know of as many as five actors who started their acting career in the 1950s with the screen-name Raj Kumar. The most well-known among them are Kannada Superstar Dr. Rajkumar and Bollywood Legend Kulbhushan Pandit better known as (Jaani) Raaj Kumar. Raj Kumar who prominently appeared in costume drama films, played leading and supporting roles. Raj(u) Kumar, a junior artist, whose work is largely un-credited can be seen doing two bit roles in films like Shree 420 (1955), Jagte Raho (1956), Dilli Ka Thug (1958), etc. Some of his prominent roles are in Aaj Aur Kal (1963) and Ziddi (1964). Last but not the least is Raj Kumar Gupta who played the protagonist in Satyen Bose directed Jagriti (1954). This may be his only on-screen appearance, we aren’t aware if he participated in any other film. When artists active around the same time share the same screen-name, their filmography are often overlapped. Individual contributions can only be found with the help of visual evidence but with Bollywood loosing numerous films in fire casualties, this becomes almost impossible to accomplish.
About two years ago we were looking for a particular film based on Sant Tulsidas. We had no idea about the cast and crew, just a faint image of a scene from the film seen ages ago on Doordarshan. We came across two movies, the first one was Tulsidas (1954) which had actor Mahipal in the title role. Shri Ram mainly appears twice on-screen as this story progresses, first when he gives darshan to his devotee Tulsidas and then when small scenes from Ramayan are shown while Ramcharitmans is being composed. We could not help but notice the young boy, who played the role of Shri Ram. He looked just about 15 years old, had a pleasant calm face with a lovely smile. This was possibly the first time we saw such a young actor play Shri Ram on-screen.
Goswami Tulsidas (1964)
Next we saw, Goswami Tulsidas (1964, Awadhi) which had actor Shahu Modak in the title role. In this Shri Ram was played by a young man who seemed to be in his twenties, had a boyish charm, calm face, a lovely smile. Just then we realized that the actor we had seen in the 1954 film had now grownup into a handsome young man but we had no idea who he was till then. Unfortunately we haven’t found the movie we were looking for yet.
Having deep interest in mythology, we are avid mythological film watchers. We have been seeing a lot of films made in this genre, from classics to mediocre, we have seen them all. We believable that no matter how good or bad these films are made in totality, there is always something to take back from them. In almost every second film we saw, we seemed to notice this actor playing supporting characters. He was so adorable and endearing that we could never miss him on-screen. Our curiosity and liking for him was increasing. One day we finally checked the opening credits of almost 6-7 films we had seen featuring him, like, Sant Tukaram (1955), Badrinath Yatra (1967), Maya Machhindra (1975), Har Har Gange (1979), Chintamanee Surdas (1988), etc, to find that one common name in the cast list of all these films. The common name was Raj Kumar (राजकुमार). Since then we have become habitual of checking the cast credits of every mythological film we watch. This post is a photo and video blog to take a look at Raj Kumar ji work and our impressions about him.
Raj Kumar ji was a fine actor, not extraordinary but there was something special about his screen presence. Apart from his boyish good looks, he had an unspoken charm and emanated an inherent goodness. We did not even realize when we started admiring him. We started checking films that had ‘Raj Kumar’ in the cast list but did not feature the better known Raaj Kumar. Its only when we watched films like Aaj Aur Kal (1963), Ustadon Ke Ustad (1963) and Ziddi (1964) did we realize that there was another actor with the same name we were not aware of (referring to Raj(u) Kumar).
So far we know of 32 films in which our Raj Kumar ji played leading or supporting parts. The earliest being Shuk Rambha (1953) till the latest we have seen, Chintamanee Surdas (1988). Among these, 25 are mythological / devotional films. He seemed to be a favourite with Basant Pictures & Babubhai Mistry and regularly appeared in their films. He played the leading man opposite Nalini Jaywant in Neel Mani (1957), Anita Guha in Maya Bazaar (1958) and Laxmi Chhaya in Veer Ghatotkach (1970). He acted with legendary actor Jairaj in three Historical films, namely, Amar Singh Rathod (1957), Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan (1959) and Jai Chitod (1961). Just when we thought he worked only in costume dramas, we got to know of two social films – Sautela Bhai (1962) and Nai Umar Ki Nai Fasal (1965). In both these films he has a parallel role of the leading man’s younger brother. In his acting career spanning more than three decades, we are sure he has appeared in many more films. Our search is on.
We have observed that Raj Kumar ji was usually cast in roles like a younger brother, a young warrior, a young disciple, etc. In other words he would be seen playing one of the youngest characters in the film, most likely due to his physical frame and boyish looks. The natural goodness he exuded on-screen possibly made filmmakers often cast him in their mythological / devotional films. One role which he has played umpteen times is that of Lakshman, Shri Ram’s younger brother. We have seen as many as seven films based on different stories associated with Ramayan where he has played Lakshman, namely – Sampoorna Ramayan (1961), Ram Bhakt Hanuman (1969), Sati Sulochana (1969), Bhagwan Parshuram (1970), Hanuman Vijay (1974), Mahabali Hanuman (1981) and Sati Naag Kanya (1983).
Prabhu Ki Maya (1955)
One of Raj Kumar ji’s early films is Prabhu Ki Maya (1955) where he played young Shukdev. Interestingly he has been credited as Master Raj Kumar for this film. He may have done more films as a child artist. Hence going by genre, we feel it may be this Raj Kumar who featured in films like Janmashtami (1950) and Jai Mahakali (1951) which were released before the more famous Raaj Kumar’s debut film Rangili (1952). However we could not find a visual proof to confirm the same. Going by how he looks in this film, we assume he must be born around 1940.
||Veer Ghatotkach (1970)
Us Pratham Pratham Parichay Mein Hi sung by Mukesh is our most favorite song featuring Raj Kumar ji. B D Mishra’s lyrics are composed by Dilip Roy.
||Sautela Bhai (1962)
In this film Raj Kumar ji playes Guru Dutt’s younger brother, Vinod. In the adjoining scene he is repenting for his deeds & asking for forgiveness. Its one of our favorite scenes.
||Shuk Rambha (1953)
We learnt about this film after we had finalized the content for this blog. Raj Kumar ji is so adorable in this one, the youngest we have seen him so far. This sweet song, O Meri Maayi De De Bidaai sung by Master Gopal & Asha Bhosle is composed by Manna Dey and written by Bharat Vyas.
|Some more clips featuring Raj Kumar ji can be viewed on our YouTube channel.|
In the past two years we have interacted with some of Raj Kumar ji co-stars, namely – B M Vyas, Bela Bose and Rakesh Pandey. Raj Kumar ji was also referred to as Chhota Raj Kumar (छोटा राजकुमार). He used to live in Chembur but later shifted elsewhere. With fewer acting assignments coming his way, he joined filmmaker Prakash Mehra as Assistant in the 1980s. We scanned through Mr Mehra’s filmography and checked the opening credits of almost all his films made post-1980.
In the opening credits of Zindagi Ek Juaa (1992) we found P.A. to the Director credited to Raj Kumar Khatri (राजकुमार खत्री). We happen to contact Prakash Mehra’s longtime associate Ram Sethi who confirmed that this was indeed the same Raj Kumar we had been looking for. He had assisted him (found the name Raj Kumar credited as Assistant for Ghungroo (1983)) and Mr Mehra for many years. Sethi ji however could not tell us more. But we were elated; finally we had made some progress towards knowing our Raj Kumar. From a teen-aged boy to a middle-aged adult, we have seen him grow through his films. We hope that this blog will reach people who will help us know more about this actor, who touched our hearts.
– Maitri Manthan
* We would like to thank Shishir Krishna Sharma, Harish Raghuvanshi, Mool Narain Sardana, Surjit Singh, B M Vyas, Bela Bose, Rakesh Pandey, Ram Sethi, Priya Lakshmi, Edu Productions, Cineplot and film-collector Trinidad for their input and assistance.
* Sautela Bhai (1962) is available in great print and can be downloaded from here. If any one comes across more films (not listed in filmography) featuring our Raj Kumar ji, please let us know.
* The information provided in this blog is to the best of our knowledge, if any discrepancies are found please let us know. Thank you.