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Obit tribute article on rajoo kariya

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JYOTHI VENKATESH remembers the seasoned senior most PR person who died yesterday

The list is growing and I am becoming sadder as the coronavirus as well as heart attack is gobbling more and more lives, one after the other. First it was Irrfan Khan, then Rishi Kapoor in the beginning of this year. Then it was Sushant Singh who was allegedly brutally murdered. Then journalist cum PRO K.M.

Srivastava and Shyam Sharma passed away due to Covid. Now the latest victim this time of a heart attack is my dear friend, the veteran film PRO of Hindi films Rajoo Kariya who passed away yesterday morning (3rd November) at his residence in Mumbai at the age of 70.

His body was taken to the Cooper hospital for post mortem to rule out any foul play. What was sad was the fact that with the exception of Soundarya Garg and Kunicka Sadananad, there was hardly any star from the industry at the crematorium where Rajoo was cremated yesterday. But then that is the way the film industry functions where the dictum which runs is matlab nikal gaya hai to pehchaante nahin.

Bollywood’s senior PRO Rajoo Kariya passed away this morning due to a massive heart attack. He is survived by his wife Nanda and daughters Sonal and Dharika. Sonal said, “My father suffered a heart attack this morning, we are taking him to the hospital for post-mortem, after that only we will get to know more.”His funeral was held at Oshiwara near Andheri last night at 10 pm.

Although Kariya was not very active since almost a decade, there was a time in the 1980s and 1990s when he used to handle the publicities of scores of films at the same time. To his credit, it must be said that Rajoo, who had come to Mumbai to earn his livelihood as an auto rickshaw driver managed his public relations business quite effectively even though he was not fluent in English.

In fact, Rajoo used to rue to me that he resented being called a vernacular PRO and had vowed that a day would come when he would be able to draft his press releases in English, a feat he just could not muster as all his English releases were drafted by journalist Ashok Anchan till some time back in a regular basis.

He is the only PRO in the industry who has worked with three generations of the Kapoor family. He worked for Raj Kapoor, Randhir Kapoor, and Karisma Kapoor. He worked with many acclaimed celebrities of Bollywood like Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor, Rajendra Kumar, Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna, Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan and Govinda to name a few.

Raju Kariya ruled over the Bollywood industry for over fifty years. He was active from the time he used to come to my house at Worli with cyclostyled invitations or pick me up and drop me from his parties in the suburbs. Unfortunately Rajoo did not manage to learn to type in computers in English or master e mail and was still sending me press releases and pictures only via whatsapps

Raju Kariya was the most awarded PRO of Bollywood. Raju was the first PRO in Bollywood who received the Best Bollywood PR of the Millennium by the World Book of Records as recognition of his achievement of handling the Public Relations of Hindi films ranging from the era of Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand and the likes to the current generation of filmmakers.

He took the opportunity to utilize this lock-down period to formulate strategies to create a blast in the filmy town with an announcement of not one or two – but 15 films!

One thing about Rajoo that I have always admired is the fact that he used to make it a point to throw out gatecrashers who used to throng to his party for free booze and autographs from the stars earlier and take ‘selfies’ of late. He used to tell them straight on the face that they were not welcome because he had not invited them and thrown them out without fail.

It may seem very silly when you hear about it or read about it, but don’t forget that by throwing out fifteen guys who were uninvited, Rajoo was able to save the poor producer’s kharcha on those guys.

Not all the PR persons in Bollywood had the guts that Rajoo used to have, which often also resulted in him losing his clients too. Like at one party when the producer told Rajoo that the booze was only for his stars and not for the media, Rajoo immediately threatened to walk out with all the media guys who had come to the party if the producer did not bother to provide drinks for every invitee at the party.

Or else he would pay from his pocket and Rajoo used to make it a point to zip down to Mumbai from Nagpur where he was staying after a gangrene operation cost him his leg which had to be amputated. Two years ago. Rajoo had told me that it was very heartening to see Covid19 warriors like the man on the streets and even the corporate heads like Ratan Tata, Azim Premji with the Bollywood too, not remaining far behind, with Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar and Aamir Khan, each of them putting in whatever best they could?”

On witnessing the plight of his industry professionals, Raju Kariya had also devised an innovative and realistic strategy along with his film producers friends with whom he was in touch with since several years. Raju was in fact waiting for the lock down to be lifted with a string of films which were just ready to be launched.

Raju had even tied up with BJP leader Ranjeet Sharma of ‘Bambai Can Dance Saala’, Harish Sapkale who had made films with Ajay Devgn, Raveena Tandon and Amrish Puri, Sandeep Shinde the man behind the release of ‘Jis Desh Mein Ganga Rehta Hai’, Hadh and Arshad Siddiqui of ‘Ek Tera Saath’ Raju was very hopeful that he would bring back the days of glory in Bollywood

Kariya leads the pack of ‘Magnificent Seven’ comprising seven filmmakers who are all set to hit the floors with their newly launched films immediately once the Covid19 lock-down is lifted. Sandeep Shinde is all set to announce 5 projects comprising Bollywood films, Marathi films and a Web Series under the banner of his Corporate House Shlok and Smit Corporation.

Harish Sakpale is announcing his maiden venture, award winning filmmaker Hyder Kazmi is announcing his next film coupled with his entry into the OTT Platform with a web series, while Naveen Tak, Ranjeet Sharma and Arshad Siddiqui have a couple of films each which will be shot simultaneously.

I remember many outdoor shootings which I had covered with Rajoo as the PRO and gone to locations like Nainital, Shimla, besides Khandala and Mahabaleshwar during those times when an outdoor shooting coverage was a must and we were hardly a few journalists who used to cover outdoor shootings regularly and religiously.

With the sad demise of Rajoo due to heart attack, a big void has indeed descended on the film industry. People like Rajoo Kariya are no longer there in the film industry who sued to handle the publicity of their clients single handedly without having any assistant to help them like in these days when PR guys have their own ad agencies or they sit at their office and handle publicity jus6t by sending whatsapp to journalists Just when I thought that Rajoo Kariya 2.0 was here to stay in Bollywood after having fully recovered from a medical surgery and wished to repeat his ‘launching as many as 15 films on a single day’ , a feat he accomplished on 31 December 1988, when I had attended with him each and every mahurat on that day.