Divya Solgamawrote on Aug 20 2008 6:14PM
Rajendra Kumar was born on 20 July 1929 in Sialkot ( Now in Pakistan ), West Punjab, British India
Born Rajendra Kumar Tuli, this handsome Punjabi made his entry into Hindi films as an assistant director to.DH.S. Rawail, who later made the blockbuster 'Mere Mehboob with Rajendra Kumar. That was when Kumar was acknowledged as 'Jubilee Kumar'. Every film he starred in would turn into pure gold, if not, then silver that was for sure. Though initially he learnt the ropes of filmmaking, Rajendra Kumar wanted to be an actor. He got his first chance as an actor when he played a walk-on part in the Dilip Kumar-starrer 'Jogan'. From then on, the thespian remained Rajendra's role model and he wasn't ashamed of emulating Dilip Kumar's tragedy-tinged heroism. HE REIGNED. The hits poured. In the 1960s, the film trade labelled him 'Jubilee Kumar'. Such was his track record of hits that heroines fell over each other to be part of his films. Though critics considered him a non-actor, Rajendra Kumar was adored by his fans. The ladies specially loved his quivering lips and voice which conveyed immense pain and an absence of choice. Though RK dabbled in light-veined roles in his later years (for instance 'Do Jasoos' where he played a bumbling sleuth alongside friend and 'Sangam' co-star Raj Kapoor), the audience would always remember Rajendra Kumar as the Glycerine God. A careful planner and austere in money matters, Rajendra Kumar was one of the few wise investors from his generation of actors. So what if the industry branded him a kanjoos behind his back? Rajendra Kumar's jubilee hits made 'many moviemakers rich.In films like 'Aarzoo', 'Dil Ek Mandir' and 'Sangam', Rajendra Kumar suffered silently in love. He was the Devdas of the 1960s. It took Rajendra Kumar a very little time to attain stardom. After doing a bit role in 'Patanga' in 1949, RK was formally introduced by that hawk-eyed talent scout Kidar Sharma in 'Jogan'. In his first major role in 'Vachan' (1955), he was cast as Geeta Bali's brother. Rajendra Kumar's first lead role came in 1956 with 'Awaaz'. After he played the good son in Mehboob's 'Mother India', there was no stopping RK. He became typecast as the ternal do-gooder, perishing piece by piece in pursuit of nobility and goodness. In 1959, Rajendra Kumar became a superstar with 'Goonj Uthi Shehnai'. Ironically, he did music-less 'Kanoon' the very next year. And in 'Dhool Ka Phool', released almost simultaneously with the syrupy, Arcadian romance 'Goonj Uthi Shehnai', Rajendra Kumar seduced and impregnated Mala Sinha and married Nanda. He was clearly eager to experiment with his roles.But the Hindi commercial cinema branded him as the goody-goody” Ram of Ramayan. The hits simply poured throughout the 60s as ” 'Aas Ka Pancchi', 'Sasural', 'Humrahi', 'Dil Ek Mandir', 'Aayi Milan Ki Bcla', 'Zindagi', 'Sangam', 'Aarzoo' and 'Suraj' were some of RK's blockbusters in the 1960s. The downslide began soon after, with a spate of Expensive flops like 'Aman', 'Jhuk Gaya Aasman', 'Palki', 'Saathi' and 'Shatranj'. By the 1970s, Rajendra Kumar had become an anachronism. But he struggled on with a spate of over-the-hill portrayals in 'Ganwaar', 'Gaon Hamara Shehar Tumhara' and 'Tangewallah'. Though the downfall had distinctly materialized in the 1970s, RK delivered a hit 'Gora Aur Kala' at the height of the Rajesh Khanna wave. In the 1980s, Rajendra Kumar concentrated on his son Kumar Gaurav's career. The star son was proudly and successfully launched in 'Love Story' in 1981. But his son never kept the success for long and delivered list of flops , Rajendra Kumar continued to re-launch his son periodically in 'Naam', 'Jurrat' and 'Phool'. But Gaurav couldn't carry forward his father's star legacy. The last film in which Rajendra appeared was a minor role in Deepa Mehta's critically acclaimed film Earth in 1998.
On 12th July 1999 , Rajendra Kumar, who had never known a day's illness, succumbed to a painful terminal illness in Mumbai, India. He died as tragically as the characters he loved to portray.