'Rajkumar is our cultural ambassador'

Chief minister Siddaramaiah unveils thespian's memorial at Kanteerava Studios

'Rajkumar is our cultural ambassador'

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Saturday unveiled Kannada thespian Rajkumar’s memorial at the Kanteerava Studios here.

South Indian film superstars Rajinikanth and Chiranjeevi were the special invitees for the event.

The chief minister, along with his Cabinet colleagues M H Ambareesh, Umashree, Roshan Baig and Dinesh Gundu Rao, offered prayers at the memorial. Siddaramaiah also unveiled a bust of Rajkumar in front of the memorial.

Addressing around 5,000 fans and invitees, the chief minister said Rajkumar was a cultural ambassador not only for Karnataka, but also for the entire country.

“Rajkumar is a demi-god for the people of Karnataka. He has played a variety of roles during his film career and used to get into his roles with ease. He has been a role model for his fans across the State with his simplicity and humility. We, Kannadigas should follow this great role model in our lives,” Siddaramaiah said.

Recalling his interactions with the legendary actor, he said, “Whenever we met, Dr Raj used to say ‘Namma Kadinavaru Bandru’ (man from our forests has come).
Since we hail from the same undivided district, including Chamarajanagar, he used to recall the forests. In my view, Rajkumar himself should take a rebirth for us to see an actor and personality like him,” Siddaramaiah said.

He pledged to donate his eyes and called upon the late actor’s fans to follow their icon, whose eyes were also donated after his death. Later in the evening, he completed the formalities at Minto Hospital and signed documents related to eye donation, sources said.

Earlier in the day, a vehicle, Raja Ratha, carrying a torch that started its journey from Rajkumar’s birthplace Gajanur, reached the Kanteerava Studios. Rajkumar’s son Raghavendra said the light was a symbol of vision and it carried a message to the people to donate their eyes like his father did.

“In the last two months before his death, he wished to pay a visit to his favourite shrine Mantralaya. However, my mother and other family members were uncertain about the trip. He kept saying, ‘Gurugalu (Raghavenrdra seer) is persuading me to visit Mantralaya.’

The next day, the Mantralaya seer visited our house and Appaji was very happy. Just one day, we had to take him in a wheel chair, and from that day till he passed away, Appaji used to say, ‘My children should remember me as a healthy person.’

He remained cheerful, singing bhajans throughout the day till April 12, 2006. The torch was lit at Gajanur by my son, and till Saturday afternoon, 90,000 people have pledged to donate their eyes,” Raghavendra said.

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