Raj Bahadur is a retired Indian bus driver from Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC). He is famous for being the best friend of the legendary Indian actor Rajinikanth.
Height (approx.): 5′ 7″
Hair Colour: Salt & Pepper
Eye Colour: Black
He lives with his brother’s family in Bengaluru.
Friendship with Rajinikanth
Raj Bahadur met Rajinikanth in 1970 when Raj started working as a bus driver and Rajinikanth joined as a bus conductor at Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC). In an interview, Raj shared that he identified Rajinikanth’s acting talent while he used to perform at employee’s association functions. He said,
Although he was a conductor like many others, he definitely had a spark. We used to watch him act in dramas organised by the employee’s association where he would always play the main role. He was really exceptional in acting. But he never dreamt of being an actor. Once, I told him that he has all the talent and ability to be an actor in movies. He was not interested in entering movies but I pushed him.”
He then forced Rajinikanth to join an acting school in Chennai. At that time, Raj’s salary was Rs. 400, and he used to send Rs. 200 every month to Rajinikanth while he was training in the acting school. Later, Rajinikanth performed in one of the dramas where the Tamil director K Balachander was invited as a chief guest. He liked Rajini’s performance and asked him to learn Tamil. Rajinikanth went to Raj and told him that he had to learn Tamil as told by the director. While talking about the same incident, in an interview, Raj said,
Rajini came to Bengaluru and told me that Balachander asked him to learn Tamil but did not say anything else. I told him if such a big director has said it there is something ahead. As I know Tamil, from then onwards, we decided to speak only in Tamil. In the next two months, Rajinikanth was able to speak Tamil fluently. Next time when Rajini met the director, Balachander told him that he had a role but said since he does not know Tamil, it would not be possible to cast him. Immediately, Rajini replied to him in Tamil saying he knew the language and Balachander was stunned by his ability of learning the language in just two months. And he got the role in Apoorva Raagangal in 1975. Since then, he never looked back and the rest is history.”
In 1993, Raj Bahadur did a small role in Rajinikanth’s Tamil film ‘Valli’ for which Rajini gave him Rs. 2 lakhs which he kept as his savings. Raj Bahadur got retired as a bus driver in 2005 from Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC). In an interview, while talking to the reporters, Raj said that even after his retirement, Rajinikanth often visits his home without informing him in advance. He said,
Rajini always pays surprise visits. He visits in disguise to avoid public gaze and arrives at wee hours and knocks on the door. No phone calls, no messages, just hops on to the next flight and lands at the friend’s doorstep. There is a room in house reserved for Rajini. We don’t know when he will come and knock on the door. So the room will always be ready. It is a simple small room with a single cot and enough space for another person to sleep on the floor. Whenever Rajini comes, we shut inside the room and speak for hours. I sleep on the cot while Rajini sleeps on bed laid on the floor. It has been like this for years.”
In an interview, Raj shared an incident when Rajinikanth wanted to visit the famous ‘‘Kadlekai Parishe,’ an annual fair of groundnuts held in Basavanagudi, Bengaluru. He said,
We changed appearances and went on the busy streets of Bull Temple Road where the fair takes place. Rajini enjoyed every bit of the crowded fair without being noticed for a while. A girl was suspicious that the man walking next to me was Rajinikanth. But somehow, she came near us and asked if he was Rajinikanth. We laughed at her saying she has mistook him for someone else. The girl being a diehard Rajini fan, said she recognizes him by his eyes and she is confident that he is Rajini. Before she could actually establish the facts, we ran away from the fair.”
In 2021, while receiving the prestigious 51st Dadasaheb Phalke Award at the 67th National Film Awards, New Delhi, Rajinikanth dedicated his award to his best friend Raj Bahadur. He said,
I dedidcate my award to my friend in Karnataka, bus transport driver, my colleague – Raj Bahadur. When I was the bus conductor, he identified the acting talent in me and encouraged me to join the cinemas.”
When Raj Bahadur was asked to give his reaction to Rajinikanth’s generous act, Raj replied,
It was not necessary for him to take my name while he was receiving the prestigious award. It shows his integrity, humbleness and the fact that he did not forget his journey. He never forgets his friends as they were the one who encouraged him. Even if he meets his relatives, he makes it a point to meet his friends whenever he comes to Bengaluru. The love, affection, not just between Rajinikanth and me, but between him and all his friends have remained the same for all these decades.”
Raj and Rajinikanth always consult each other while taking major decisions in their life.