Divya Solgamawrote on Aug 20 2008 6:14PM
Raaj Kumar was born on October 8, 1926 as Kulbushan Pandit in Balochistan which is now a province of Pakistan. He moved to Mumbai in the late 1940s and was a sub-inspector of the Mumbai police. He married Gayatri in the 1960s with whom he had three children, a son named Puru Raajkumar who is also an actor in the Bollywood industry and a daughter named Vastavikta who is also set to debut in films and Panini, who has not shown any move towards films as of now.
In the early 1950s, he 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 as a poor farmer who loses his arms in an accident and then abandons his wife and children was appreciated and he went onto play many leading and supporting roles throughout the 1960s and 1970s where his special style of dialogue delivery made him an icon in the industry.
Apart from his unique style of dialogue delivery which became his trademark, he was known for his show or scene stealing abilities even when he was not in the leading role. One of his most famous catchphrases was "Jaani" which he frequently used in many of his films and also addressed people with the same word. "Aapke paon dekhe. Bahut haseen hain. Inhe zameen pe mat utariyega. Maile ho jaayenge (Your feet are beautiful. Do not let them on the floor. They will get soiled)." Pakeezah "Jinke ghar sheeshey ke hote hain woh doosron ke ghar pe patthar nahin phenka karte (Those whose houses are made of glass don't throw stones)." Waqt Crowd-pleasing, ceetee[whistle]-evoking lines. That was Raaj Kumar's gravel-voiced display of vocal pyrotechnics. He defined aplomb. He inspired writers to pen bombastic lines; he also enthused them to conceive larger-than-life characters to suit his image as a personality suffused with wit and sarcasm. Raaj kumar’s most notable performances were in hit films like "Paigham" (1959), "Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayi" (1960), "Gharana" (1961), "Dil Ek Mandir" (1963), "Waqt" (1965), "Neel Kamal" (1968), "Pakeezah" (1971), "Lal Patthar" (1971) and "Hindustan Ki Kasam" (1973). He picked up Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Awards for "Dil Ek Mandir" where he played a man dying of cancer and "Waqt" where he played one of three rich aristocrats. Towards the late 1970s and 1980s Raaj Kumar appeared in lesser films and often played central supporting or villain roles such as the father, uncle, friend, an elderly mobster. His most notable films during this period included "Kudrat" (1981), "Ek Nai Paheli" (1984), "Marte Dam Tak" (1987) and "Jung Baaz" (1989). In 1991 he appeared alongside 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). 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. His death came only a few months before his son Puru Raajkumar was due to make his debut in "Bal Brahmachari" which released later that year. It was dedicated to his memory.