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Raju Srivastava was symbolic of the common man

Last Updated : 24 September 2022, 03:36 IST
Last Updated : 24 September 2022, 03:36 IST

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The gods must be having a field day, with Raju Srivastava to entertain them in heaven.

The Indian entertainment industry has lost a precious star. As eager audiences, we have lost a much-loved comic artiste who brought his signature charisma to the stage, with his ease of language, fluency in multiple dialects from the hinterland and superb mimicry.

Raju, popularly monikered as Gajodar Bhaiya, was born as Satya Prakash Srivastava and had a humble childhood in Kanpur. He soon arrived in Mumbai, with dreams of appearing on the silver screen.

Raju Srivastava did make his mark, with small roles he netted in the movies including 'Bombay to Goa' (1972), 'Tezaab' (1988), 'Maine Pyar Kiya' (1989), 'Baazigar' (1993) and later 'Aamdani Atthani Kharcha Rupaiya' (2001). Apart from acting, he did what it took to earn a living, from driving an autorickshaw to turning into a cricket commentator to small comedy acts.

National adulation and appreciation began to flow his way once he took part in the comedy show 'The Great Indian Laughter Challenge in 2005'. Raju. who finished as the second runner up, charmed the natives with his simple, clean humour and typical gesticulations. The character of Gajodhar Bhaiya, hailing from the cowbelt, was created with amazing, inborn ease made and that made everyone embrace him instantly. His middle-hair parting character Dhurandhar Singh in the television show 'Shaktimaan' also won him thousands of followers

Once when interrogated by journalist Rajat Sharma in the mock court of the show 'Aap Ki Adalat', close to a decade ago, he confessed to making a living during his struggling days by imitating Amitabh Bachchan. He idolised Amitabh, even as a child. With the money he earned by aping him, Raju was able to eke a living in Mumbai at a time when mimicry was restricted to articulating the dialogues of Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar, and Shatrughan Sinha.

Raju had memorised all the dialogues from Amitabh’s movies, and rendered them faultlessly, earning a princely sum of Rs 50 for his first mimicry act. It was big money for him, as he was jobless and hungry when he came to Mumbai.

His special comic bone easily distinguished him from others. From wearing the mantle of 'King of Comedy' with inborn flair, to enacting the hilarious mayyat secrets of Bollywood stars to articulating with typical accents along with expressing the mannerisms of our old dada ji in our ancestral homes to giving a voice to the sofas in our homes creaking in protest under our weight, Raju had his hand on the pulse of the nation in his simple, spontaneous, sardonic style.

He went on to participate in 'Nach Baliye 6' with his wife Shikha in 2013 after having declined to participate in 'Bigg Boss' in 2009. But he did a turnaround when he came to know that his idol, Amitabh Bachchan, was the host of the reality show. Raju joined Bharatiya Janta Party in 2014, and was declared the face of Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan in UP by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

It has been a well-deserved rush of achievements for the talented comedian, who was symbolic of the common man.

He has made us cry now, and it isn’t a joke.

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Published 23 September 2022, 18:32 IST

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