Raaj Kumar was an Indian actor who worked as a Sub Inspector of the Mumbai Police before becoming an actor. With a deadpan face, a pencil-thin moustache, and stony eyes, this eccentric anti-star is best described as complex, impossible, compelling, and enigmatic whose understated acting style blended with his quintessential style of dialogue delivery, famously prefixed with a ‘Jaani,’ is still remembered by the Hindi film fraternity.
Raaj Kumar was born as Kulbhushan Pandit on Friday, 8 October 1926 (age 69 Years; at the time of death) in Loralai, Baluchistan Agency, British India (now in Balochistan, Pakistan). After the partition of India, he moved to Bombay where he got the job in the Mumbai Police as a Sub Inspector and was attached at the Mahim Police Station. After his alleged involvement in a murder case, he had to leave the police service. Thereafter, he switched to acting and started giving auditions in the Hindi film industry.
Height (approx.): 5′ 10″
Eye Colour: Dark Brown
Hair Colour: Salt & Pepper
Family & Caste
Parents & Siblings
Raaj Kumar’s father’s name is Jagdishwar Nath Pandit, and his mother’s name is Dhanraj Rani Pandit. He had four sisters and three brothers – Anand Babi Pandit, Jeevanlal Pandit, and Mahindernath Pandit. IMDb
Relationships, Wife & Children
After almost a decade of his acting debut, he met Jennifer (an Anglo-Indian air hostess) on a flight in the ’60s and fell in love with her. Their romance blossomed, and soon, they tied the knot. Filmfare After getting married to Raaj Kumar, Jennifer was renamed as Gayatri. The couple went on to have three children – two sons and a daughter. His two sons, Puru Raaj Kumar and Panini Raajkumar, both are actors.
Raaj Kumar’s acting career spanned over four decades during which he delivered several memorable performances, such as ‘Shamu’ in Mother India (1957), ‘Ram’ in Dil Ek Mandir (1963), ‘Raja’ in Waqt (1965), ‘Chitrasen’ in Neel Kamal (1968), ‘Salim’ in Pakeezah (1972), ‘Rajeshwar Singh’ in Saudagar (1991), and ‘Brigadier Suryadev Singh’ in Tirangaa (1993).
Reportedly, in 1949, he had auditioned for the Hindi film Daulat but got rejected. IMDb He was first noticed in Sohrab Modi’s film Nausherwan-E-Adil. In this costume drama film, he played the role of Prince Naushazad. The role of ‘Shamu’ in the Indian classic ‘Mother India’ (1957), established him as an actor in the Hindi film industry. In Mother India, he appeared in a brief role as the husband of Nargis. Mother India went on to become India’s official entry to the Oscars.
Raaj Kumar earned his first Filmfare nomination in the category of Best Supporting Actor for the 1959 Hindi film Paigham in which he played the role of a Mill worker. In Paigham, he appeared alongside Dilip Kumar for the first time, and they both reunited in the Subhash Ghai directorial film Saudagar.
Saudagar went on to become a cult film on friendship in India. Here’s a popular dialogue of Raaj Kumar from Saudagar –
जानी…हम तुम्हें मारेंगे और जरूर मारेंगे, पर बंदूक भी हमारी होगी और गोली भी हमारी होगी और वह वक्त भी हमारा होगा।”
His other benchmark film is Waqt in which he played the role of ‘Raja,’ and his dialogues in the film are still considered iconic in the Indian film fraternity. Here’s a famous dialogue of Raaj Kumar from Waqt –
चिनॉय सेठ, जिनके घर शीशे के बने होते हैं वो दूसरों पर पत्थर नहीं फेंकते।”
After doing Pakeezah in 1972, he became a household name. In Pakeezah, he played the role of an aristocrat who fell in love with a beautiful dancing girl just by seeing her feet in a railway compartment. Here’s a dialogue from Pakeezah, which is listed among Hindi cinema’s most romantic moments –
आपके पांव देखे, बहुत हसीन हैं, इन्हें जमीन पर मत उतारिएगा मैले हो जाएंगे।”
His last successful film was Tirangaa (1993) in which he played the role of ‘Brigadier Suryadev Singh,’ and his dialogues in the film became very popular. Here’s a popular dialogue of Raaj Kumar from Tirangaa –
हम आंखो से सुरमा नहीं चुराते। हम आंखें ही चुरा लेते हैं।”
Raaj Kumar’s last released film was ‘God And Gun’ (1995) in which he played the role of Saheb Bahadur Rathore.
Awards & Honours
- Won Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film “Dil Ek Mandir” (1963) in 1964.
- Won Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film “Waqt” (1965) in 1966.
- In 1969, his altercation with Raj Kapoor at Prem Chopra’s wedding party was extensively covered in media. Reportedly, Raj Kapoor had incited Raaj Kumar by making a comment on him –
You are a bloody murderer!”
Raj Kapoor said so in disgust because Raaj Kumar had refused his offer to play a role in Mr. Kapoor’s multi-starrer film ‘Mera Naam Joker.’ Raaj Kumar, in his reply, said,
- While enjoying the success of Mother India on an evening drive along with his friend director Prakash Aurora and his wife, Raaj Kumar was heckled by a group of anonymous men when Mr. Kumar was standing at a Paan shop, a fight ensued in which a person was killed. Raaj Kumar was arrested; however, later he was acquitted of all charges. IMDb
- Food: Rogan Josh, Chaman (Paneer) with Baingan and Kasuri Methi, Methi Paratha
- Beverage: Kahwa (a Kashmiri drink)
- Cuisine: Continental
- Filmmaker: Mehboob Khan
- Travel Destination: Kashmir, Switzerland
Raaj Kumar died of Throat Cancer. Reportedly, he had been suffering from Hodgkin’s Disease for a long time. Ironically, he never supported the portrayal of death scenes in films. While making a comment on this, he said that the film industry had always been turning death into a Tamasha. He had also insisted that his own exit would be a private, family affair. He said,
- In his leisure time, he loved to go for trekking, playing golf, horse riding, and listening to Classical Music and Ghazals. Filmfare
- In 1950, after leaving the Mumbai Police service, he changed his name from Kulbushan Pandit to Raaj Kumar. Independent
- Apart from an actor, he was a pro in golf. He was a skilled horse rider too. His wife, Jennifer was also good at horse riding, and they often went for horse riding in Gulmarg.
- Interestingly, it was not Meena Kumari’s feet to which Raaj Kumar had addressed in his famous romantic liner from the film Pakeezah but her body double. Hindustan Times
- Raaj Kumar didn’t belong to the league of actors who would do two to three films at a time, rather he was very selective and had rarely done more than one film in a year in his career. He was so confident over his selection of roles that when a journalist asked him to name some of his favourite roles, he said,
- Not only about films, but Raaj Kumar was also very confident when it was about the other stuff in life, He would often quote –
I believe in things I do, I do things I believe in.”
- Throughout his career, Raaj Kumar maintained a recluse and mysterious life. When a journalist asked him whether he ever felt lonely, he replied,
I can find companionship in a crowd or in solitude. No, I never feel lonely but there are moments when I want to be alone.”
- His favourite time of the day was the sunset hour during which he would love to spend time with his family.
- Raaj Kumar was considered among the first Bollywood actors who had started driving a Jeep.
- He was a passionate dog lover and had a few pet dogs at his Juhu house, including his favourite pet dog Toby. Stardust
- Raaj Kumar was known for his flamboyant lifestyle and was often spotted with his signature pipe and scotch whiskey. Stardust
- Reportedly, he had refused Zanjeer because he did not like director Prakash Mehra’s face. Business Line
- He was a committed actor and always followed disciplined work ethics, which can be inferred from an incident narrated by filmmaker Mehul Kumar who had worked with Raaj Kumar in the films like Tiranga (1993), Marte Dum Tak (1987), and Jung Baaz (1989). Mehul Kumar said that on the first day of the shoot of the film Marte Dam Tak, Raaj Kumar arrived at Madh Island in a cab and not in his personal car; when asked the reason, Mr. Kumar replied,
- Once when questioned over being an introvert and less sociable, he clarified,
- Reportedly, he drove the same Plymouth car for more than 40 years and also retained the same staff including his hairdresser, tailor, and driver during the same period. Independent
- Raaj Kumar was also the face to many melodious renditions of Bollywood, such as ‘Chu lene do nazuk hoton ko, kuch aur nahin hain jaam hai yeh, ‘ ‘Yeh Duniya, yeh mehfil,’ ‘Unkey khayal aaye to aatey chale gaye,’ and many more.