Raaj Kumar: 1972 interview

Apparently “Jaani” was not just mysteriously charismatic in his films, but an enigma off screen as well, and gleefully so! I had promised someone a while ago that I would publish this interview, which appeared in the June 1972 issue of Stardust magazine. I find Raaj Kumar very intriguing as well and enjoyed reading this somewhat fawning piece on him by Uma Rao, who was clearly awed as much by his magnetism in person as I am when I see him on screen. He comes across to me somewhat like a cat playing with a little star-struck mouse.

I’m working on more film posts but work is very busy these days—use my radio silence as an opportunity to get to know this actor slightly better (via the pdf file below). Enjoy!

Raaj Kumar 1972

50 Comments to “Raaj Kumar: 1972 interview”

  1. Haven’t read the interview yet, but am already going ‘woooo’ what fun!

  2. Raaj Kumar occupies a similar space for me as Peter O’Toole – that is, he makes me question my sexuality. I don’t know quite what it is about him but I just find him so damned sexy. Looking forward to reading this interview.
    carla (Filmi Geek)

  3. I love the way this Stardust interview is mostly about the feelings of the interviewer and impressions of Raj Kumar about town with very little in the way of facts as a conventional one would go (ask questions about childhood/school, why you wanted to be an actor, etc etc….)

  4. As Uma Rao says, quite an enigma! Loved the interview.. all along I wished it never ended. Wish it had more pics. Thanks for sharing the goodies, Ms. G :)

  5. Certainly a remarkably poorly-written piece – though in keeping with the generally poor writing style of so much Indian journalism of that era. Couldn’t get beyond the first couple of paragraphs, it was so boring.

  6. P.S. I am refering to Indian film journalism in English, to be more specific.

  7. Interesting. :) But then, I totally approved of Raaj Kumar. He had that ephemeral quality – class. (That had nothing to do with the strata of society you were born into; you either had it, or you didn’t.) What is more, he was a gentleman in the old-fashioned sense of the word.

    Thanks for this look into the past.

  8. Thanks for sharing this. I enjoyed reading about Raaj Kumar. That pic with Dev & Sunil is really awesome. Sunil Dutt is really hot in that pic! I think Raaj Kumar knew how to play the press ie warding them off from things he did not want to discuss. His so called eccentricity must have been a deliberate strategy. As Anu says he had real class. I enjoyed some of his performances, however, his style of dialogue delivery could sometimes grate due to a monotonous tone. As for the style of writing, what can one expect from a gossip rag like stardust? Most of the journos had the same tone – perhaps a reflection of shoba kilachand’s editorship those days.

    In some other mags of that era, Raaj Kumar did share things about his life ie wife and kids. I think his wife
    was an air hostess and a jew who became a hindu after marrying him. He had 3 kids – 2 sons and a daughter. The guy was a major in the Indian army before he became a filmstar.

  9. From where do you get these stardust articles from?
    loved reading the interview

  10. Thanks so much memsaab for putting out the interview…..but as u said it’s more gushing than informative, it imparted pretty much nothing… I am feeling rather annoyed with the interviewer, she couldn’t extract anything. She doesn’t even tell us what the brawls in question were about. I am also dying for some information about his wife, a picture, anything. How did they get married, how did they fall in love? Who were his friends in the industry? Stars are entitled as much as anyone to keep their private lives private; but it can be frustrating for obsessive fans if there is pretty much nothing about that star in the public domain. We have no idea about what kind of person he actually was, what his worldview was, or what his perspective was on any given issue. Thanks anyways for putting up the interview.

  11. Dear Memsaab,
    Thanks for posting that interview! That was one interesting read!! I am a great fan of Raaj Kumar. I always thought that he was among the most elegant and cultured actors around. I especially liked his dialog delivery.

  12. I don’t have a strong opinion on Raaj Kumar either way, but this little gem from the interview has converted me to amused (bemused?) fan: “This individual called myself is an undefinable, living, pulsating organism.”

    I think I’m going to make that my personal tagline. :-)

  13. Anything about Rajkumar brings curiosity and interest in itself as he was the guy who never over exposed himself.He was highly educated,sophisticated and enriched in language having a good command over Urdu and English.May be his eccentricity was a self imposed strategy to shield himself from the Hippocratic and dual nature of film Industry.
    He was a police inspector posted in Bandra in Mumbai before joining the films,his wife was a Jewess air hostess who was rechristened to ‘Gayatri’ after marrying Raj Kumar.His family consists of two sons and daughter named ‘Vastvikta’,his elder son Puru Rajkumar did featured in movies like ‘Bal Brahamchari’ and ‘Ham Aapke Dil Me Rahte Hain’ but failed to make a mark of his own,his younger son ‘Panini Raj Kumar’ and daughter also signed a film each but none of these films have seen day light yet.
    In 1996 when,due to cancer,he passed away press and media were informed only after his cremation as it was his instructions that press and non-family persons shouldn’t see him lying dead.

    • Thanks for even more info about him…and yes, he did seem very private although he also seemed to enjoy being outrageous when he did get out and about. And vain too! with his wig and makeup offscreen as well.

  14. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-04-22/news-interviews/31382036_1_shahid-kapoor-complaint-kaminey-actor

    ‘In the past few weeks, Vastavikta, the daughter of actor Raj Kumar, has scaled his building wall, blocked his car, and followed him to shoots

    After about a year of unwanted attention from Vastavikta Raj Kumar – daughter of Bollywood legend late Raj Kumar – Shahid Kapoor has submitted a written police complaint at the Versova Police Station, accusing her of stalking him.’

    • A friend of mine told me about this – apparently the Times of India reported this in their entertainment section. Very sad if it is true.

      • I love the way her family says she’s not mad, just mad about him…no, she is mentally ill and needs HELP. Maybe now she’ll get it, we can only hope.

  15. Memsaab: Thanks for sharing this vintage interview. He had a great screen presence. I noticed that this Stardust issue also has some piece on Zeenat Aman. I will be eternally grateful to you if you please share that too. I am her biggest fan ever :-) Thanks.

  16. I’m such a fan of Raj Kumar. Love him.
    I guess one has to read in between the lines of this interview.
    Loved his pairing with Meena Kumari. One of my favourite most erotic hindi film scene is from Pakeezah featuring him on the train.

  17. Memsaab ji,
    RAAJKUMAR was a very principled man and had specific ideas how he should live his life.In these days of hypocracy,he was cosidered an eccentric.
    He was very punctual and never troubled any producer for food or drinks.He used to carry his own Black Label whisky and never charged the producers.He ate the same food which the spotboys ate while shooting.
    he had 2 cars.De soto and Plymouth.He never used anybody’s car.Once when his car broke down,he quietly entered an autorikshaw and reached the studios in time.
    he was perticular that his children should get education like any other shildren and not like a star’s children.
    he had tremendous respect for ladies. He is the only star who worked in 4 films with Meenakumari,the maximum.The dialogue of pakiza,” aapke paon jameen pe mat rakhiyega.maile Ho jayenge” was written by himself.
    he had Throat cancer.When someone asked him,he said,Hum kisi aise vaise bimari se thode hi marenge,Hum to shahi bimari se marenge.
    On the day of death,he went to his room,started reciting Hanuman Chalisa and died quietly.The news of this death was released only after he was cremated. That was his wish.

    • That’s very much true, He was a very disciplined and punctual man. I think even the was he flicked the ash from his cigar was very methodical. That scene from “Bulundi”(1980) just stays in my mind.

      In 1991, I had just been discharged from Jaslok Hospital after undergoing a cosmetic surgery for a cleft liip. On stepping out to the road, when I was waiting for an auto with my parents, I happened to see him in his car. He seemed to be very patient, a cigar between his lips and waiting for someone. His charishma was such that neither me nor my parents had the courage to approach him for an autograph.

    • <<>>

      @Arunji: Dilip Kumar and she worked in Footpath, Yahudi, Azad, Kohinoor
      Ashok Kumar and she worked in Parineeta, Ek Hi Rasta, Chitralekha, Shatranj, Farishta, Aarti, Benazir, Bheegi Raat, Bahu Begum…
      Pradeep Kumar worked with her in
      Adil-e-Jehangir, Chitralekha, Bandhan, Aarti, Bheegi Raat, Bahu Begum, Saat Phere, Noor Jehan…
      I don’t know if I’m missing any.
      In fact, she acted with Dharmendra in more movies than she did with Raaj Kumar or Dilip Kumar:
      Chandan ka Palna, Baharon ki Manzil, Majhli Didi, Phool aur Patthar, Purnima, Kaajal, Main Bhi Ek Ladki Hoon…

      • Anu ji,
        You are very right.
        What I wanted to say is that Raaj Kumar worked maximum films with Meenakumari in his career,not with any other heroine.
        The construction of sentence was not conveying that meaning,anyway.

  18. Thanks for posting this @Memsaab. This interview takes us back to a time when stars were enigmatic and not the in-your-face creatures that they are today. Hindi film stars often cultivate either a gentlemanly image or project eccentric behavior. Raajkumar was known to be both gentlemanly and eccentric. I think the interviewer was wary of getting into his wrong side so did not really ask any penetrating questions. Perhaps with Raajkumar being so unknown, she thought even a few morsels would satisfy the readers.
    During Zeenat Aman’s (who too features on the cover) heyday, Jaani (Raajkumar) is supposed to have remarked to her that she might make it big if she considered joining films.
    He was picky about his roles as the interviewer notes. He was reportedly unwilling to act in Saudagar with Dilip Kumar as he thought Dilip had the meatier role. Subhash Ghai coaxed Jaani by telling him that his was the ‘royal’ role while Dilip was playing the part of a country bumpkin.

  19. As always the comments were more illuminating than the interview itself! Thanks to everyone’s peal of wisdom. :-)

    > Of that era? I don’t think it’s any better now! :)
    +1 for that Greta. If anything it is going all downhill now. Information glut means, anything gets printed these days.

    ++1 for that picture of Sunil Dutt and Dev Anand. Very dashing chaps, all three.

    And a corny joke moment coming up…..
    Greta, in keeping with the “filmi tribute” nature of the blog, you
    should rename the article, Heeeeerrrrreeee’s “Jaaaani” :-D
    and when your page loads, an audio clip should play in his throaty, raspy voice “Jaani” :-D
    \End of corny moment.

    Regarding the general discussion of Mithun aka “Indian dance God” in the DD post, people in the South were more spoilt for choice than the wooden dancing in Hindi films from that era, IMHO. There were some excellent dancing heroes in the 80’s-mid 90’s from Tollywood, Sandalwood and Kollywood….

    1. Kamalahassan (and practically no one else)
    2. Chiranjeevi (and many others)
    3. Vinod Raj, Shivarajkumar, shivakumar, Kumar Bangarappa etc., come to mind,

    The bad part of almost all the songs from that era was some crass, blatant what have you adjective laden outright “sareexploitation”(TM/copyright) that happened in those films for the heroines (It was in very poor taste — for sure). Perhaps it was growing up with this memory that scarred the generation growing up into rejecting the saree out right in favour of chudidhars, etc.. Recently released “Dirty Picture” milked this point from that genre to its maximum in some of the dance scenes, the settings and many aspects of the choreography.

    P.S: Oh, and congrats on getting your own spiffy URL, Grets. ;-)

  20. Excellent interview !! If he was still single in 1972, when did he marry?

    I was surprised when his son Puru Raajkumar made his debut in 1996 with an obscure movie called “Baal Brahmachari”. I was like “How can this guy make a debut at such an old age? He must be much older than Sunny Deol, Kumar Gaurav or Sunjay Dutt because their fathers were contemporaries of Raaj Kumar.”

  21. I once read that during the shooting of Waqt (1965) Yash Chopra explained a scene to Raaj Kumar and Sunil Dutt. Raaj Kumar was to say something to Sunil Dutt who would be standing with his back to Raaj Kumar. Obviously Raaj Kumar did not like the scene (Dutt’s back to him), but could not make Yash change his mind. In the scene Sunil Dutt was supposed to reply to Raaj Kumar by turning face to face with him. As soon as Sunil Dutt turned, Raaj Kumar turned his back to Sunil Dutt. Yash liked this improvisation by Raaj Kumar and retained the scene. I last saw the film years ago, so I do not remember the scene. I am not sure how much truth is there in this story of the shooting of this scene, but it having to do with Raaj Kumar, I have no doubt about it :-) He was a very interesting actor. I loved it when he beat the poor Dilip Kumar in Saudagar (1991) by miles.

  22. Raj Kumar’s Rare Video Interview:

  23. Memsaab plssssssssssssssssssssssss in this same issue of Stardust there is a write up on Suraiya and Dev Anand with lots of lovely pics. I sincerely request you to get it plsssss as I have been searching for it for years

  24. i hv read in magazine that once a producer came with aoffer of 500000 to do his film to r.k ,amount was huge at that time,r.k agreed, but while shaking hand with the producer, raj kumar, noticed that the producer was shivering, he told u take urs money i am not doing urs movie, when asked about the refusal, r.k replied jaani iam botherd about u ,as u gave me the amount u r shivering ,if the film flops u will not be able tobear so come to me with lion hearted,not like mouse

  25. Memsaab how do I read this interview. I cant locate it. Kindly help.
    how is your booklet collection shaping up.

  26. Raaj kumar was an over rated actor. HIs only plus point was his dialogue delivery.

    He bad mouthed everyone & was highly arrogant. Once after the release of “Satyam shivam sundaram”, when he happened to meet zeenat aman, he said that he could not recognize her because she wore clothes.

    He asked bappi lahiri ‘”where is your mangalsutra”? bcos bappi wore jewellery.

    Once while acting with rajesh khanna & jeetendra in “dharam kanta”, he remarked that they were junior artists. They kept quiet bcos he was a senior actor.

    He made the same remark once when acting with dharmendra & shatru. & would have got beaten up by a furious dharam if shatru had not intervened & pacified dharam.

    He once teased jeetendra in a party, This was soon after jeetu had made his debut. Raj kapoor who arrived later, got furious & anted to blast jaani.

    Hearing this, raaj kumar fled & locked himself up in the toilet for 2 hours till raj kapoor left the party.

    So much for his “boldness”.

  27. The interesting part is that all through his career he somehow remained in limelight and was always in news.

  28. Can you post Suraiya’s interview that appeared in this issue.

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