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Rajkumar (actor)

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Title: Rajkumar (actor)  
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Subject: List of Kannada films of the 1950s, Puneeth Rajkumar, List of Kannada films of 1970, List of Kannada films of 1971, Karnataka State Film Award for Best Actor
Collection: 1929 Births, 2006 Deaths, 20Th-Century Indian Musicians, 20Th-Century Singers, Actors from Bengaluru, Dadasaheb Phalke Award Recipients, Deaths from Myocardial Infarction, Filmfare Awards South Winners, Indian Male Film Actors, Kannada Language, Kannada Male Actors, Kannada People, Kannada Playback Singers, Kentucky Colonels, Kidnapped Indian People, Kidnappings, Kidnappings in India, Male Actors from Tamil Nadu, Male Actors in Kannada Cinema, National Film Award (India) Winners, Recipients of the Karnataka Ratna, Recipients of the Karnataka Ratna Award, Recipients of the Padma Bhushan
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Rajkumar (actor)

Native name ರಾಜ್‌ಕುಮಾರ
Born Singanalluru Puttaswamayya Muthuraju
(1929-04-24)24 April 1929
Gajanur, Madras Presidency, British India
Died 12 April 2006(2006-04-12) (aged 76)
Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Monuments Kanteerava Studios[1]
Other names Raj Kumar, Annavru
Occupation Actor, singer
Years active 1954–2005
Height 5 ft 7 in (170 cm)
Movement Gokak agitation[2]
Spouse(s) Parvathamma Rajkumar (1953–2006)
Children Shiva Rajkumar
Raghavendra Rajkumar
Puneeth Rajkumar
Relatives Vinay Rajkumar (grandson)

Singanalluru Puttaswamayya Muthuraju (24 April 1929 – 12 April 2006),[3] known mononymously by his screen name Rajkumar (Kannada: ರಾಜ್‌ಕುಮಾರ್), was an Indian actor and singer in the Kannada Cinema. Widely acclaimed as one of the finest actor in the history of Indian Cinema, he is considered a cultural icon, and holds a Matinée idol status in the Kannada diaspora,[4][5] among whom he is popularly adulated as Karnataka Rathna(Diamond of Karnataka State), Rajanna (Brother Raj), Varanata (Gifted actor), Natasarvabhouma (emperor of acting),[6] Gaana Gandharva (singer in the court of Gods), and as Annavru (beloved elder brother).[7]

A method actor, Rajkumar entered the film industry after his long stint as a dramatist with Gubbi Veeranna's Gubbi Drama Company, which he joined at the age of eight, and got his first break as a lead in the 1954 film Bedara Kannappa, and went on to work in over 220 films, the 2000 super hit Shabdavedhi being the last one.[7] Well known for his highly disciplined and simple lifestyle in both personal and professional fronts, Rajkumar was also an avid Yoga, Pranayama and Carnatic music performer. He is also credited for being the only Indian super star who stayed away from acting the vicious acts of drinking, smoking and uttering swear words in all the roles he performed in his long spanning career of close to 50 years.[8] At the age of 71, he was kidnapped from his farm house at Gajanur (the place where he was brought up) by forest brigand Veerappan. He was released after 108 days.[9] He died of cardiac arrest at his residence in Bangalore on 12 April 2006.[10]

In his film career, Rajkumar received eleven Karnataka State Film Awards, ten South Filmfare Awards, two National Film Awards and a National Film Award for Best Playback Singer.[11] He received in 2002 the NTR National Award. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Mysore,[12] and is a recipient of the Padma Bhushan[13] and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1995 for the lifetime contribution to Indian Cinema.[14]


  • Early life 1
  • Film career 2
    • Actor 2.1
    • Singer 2.2
  • Personal life 3
    • Family 3.1
    • Kannada language movement 3.2
    • Discipline 3.3
    • Abduction 3.4
    • Death 3.5
    • Riots following death 3.6
  • Filmography 4
  • Biography: The book "Bangarada Manushya" 5
  • Awards and honours 6
    • National Film Awards 6.1
    • Filmfare Awards South 6.2
      • Karnataka State Film Awards 6.2.1
    • Other awards and honours 6.3
    • Sarthaka Suvarna 6.4
  • Memorial 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Early life

Rajkumar was born on April 24, 1929, at Gajanur[3][15][16] (Talavadi block),[17] Madras Presidency[18] (now Tamil Nadu). His mother tongue was Kannada.[19] His father, Singanalluru Puttaswamayya, was an impoverished theatre-artist, was originally from Singanallur, Coimbatore District, Madras Presidency (Now in Karnataka),[7] who played roles like Kamsa, Ravana and Hiranyakashipu. His mother's name was Lakshmamma. Rajkumar dropped out of school at the age of 8 after having been discovered by a film producer, and played minor characters until he was 25 when he played his first lead role in a feature film.[7] Originally, he was named Mutturajar, after the Muthathi Raya (a name for the Hindu deity Hanuman), which is a temple deity located in Muthathi, a settlement on the banks of river Kaveri in present-day Karnataka.[6]

Before acting in what would become his first film as a male lead Bedara Kannappa, Rajkumar appeared in Srinivasa Kalyana, as one of the seven Saptarishi (sages). This was too small a role; he remembered only that the scene in which he acted was over before he recognized himself in the scene.

Film career


Rajkumar began his acting career as a theatre artist with his father in a troupe led by Gubbi Veeranna.[20] In 1953, he was spotted by film director H. L. N. Simha who was on the lookout for a well-built, pleasant-faced youth for his film Bedara Kannappa.[5] Simha eventually signed him for the film and christened him "Rajkumar".[20] Rajkumar would use the same name for the rest of his life. He later forayed into film production with Ranadheera Kanteerava, which he produced.

Rajkumar acted only in Kannada movies throughout his life, except one movie Sri Kalahastiswara Mahatyam, which was released in Telugu. which itself was the remake of his Kannada film Bedara Kannappa.[21] In his lifetime, Rajkumar acted in 206 Kannada movies, excluding guest appearances. He owned a film production company called Vajreshwari Production, which produces films under the banner of Dakshayani Combines. Bhagyada Bagilu was his 100th film,[22] Devatha Manushya was his 200th movie, and Shabdavedhi was his 206th and last film.

His character depictions ranged from lovers to double and triple roles', from action and mythological characters to portrayals of contemporary social causes in a career spanning over five decades.[7] Rajkumar along with his contemporaries Udaya Kumar and Kalyan Kumar were "Kumara Thrayaru" of the Kannada cinema. He has acted in 36 films with Udaya Kumar and 5 films with Kalyan Kumar over the course of his career.[23] The films presented a populist version of Karnataka's history, focusing primarily on the southern kingdoms from the Vijayanagara Empire and later to the intrigue and mystery of the Mysore royalty.[24]

Rajkumar as Krishnadevaraya in Sri Krishnadevaraya (1970)

He produced and starred in Ranadheera Kanteerava, Kaviratna Kalidasa and Shankar Guru. He produced movies based on Kannada novels and made many movies against perceived social evils, such as Shabdavedi, which addressed drug abuse.[25] He acted with many heroines in southern Indian cinema, such as Kannada's Jayanti (in over 36 films),[26] Pandaribai (18 films), Leelavathi (28 films), Bharati (28 films), Kalpana (19 films), Aarathi (13 films), B. Saroja Devi (10 films), Harini (8 films), Madhavi (6 films), Manjula (7 films), Jayamala (6 films), Lakshmi (5 films), Geetha (5 films), Saritha (5 films), Jayaprada (4 films) and others from neighbouring states.[27] The Hindi actress Rekha made her debut as heroine in the film Operation Jackpotnalli CID 999 with Rajkumar. He acted under many directors of south Indian cinema, from B.R. Pantulu and Puttanna Kanagal to Shankar Nag and T. S. Nagabharana. Chi. Udaya Shankar has written dialogues and lyrics for 85 movies. He was known for only acting in Kannada movies,[28] even though he got many offers from different movie industries in India.

Rajkumar was the first actor in Indian cinema to enact a role which resembled James Bond; his first such movie was Jedara Bale in 1968.[29] Later he acted in other Bond movies such as Operation Jackpotnalli CID 999, Goadalli CID 999, and Operation Diamond Racket where he played roles chronicling the adventures of Prakash aka Agent CID 999, a James Bondesque superspy.[30] Much of these films were from the director duo of Dorai-Bhagwan who began making spy flicks relatively late in their careers, including Operation Diamond Racket.[31]


Rajkumar was also a singer, who sang in many Kannada movies. He won the National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer in 1992 for the song "Naadamaya" from the movie Jeevana Chaitra.[32] It is a classical song in Thodi Raga.

He was trained in classical music while in Gubbi Veeranna's drama troupe which had a requirement for everyone to have at least a working knowledge of the classical music. He performed a song in the movie Mahishasura Mardini (this was picturised on Narasimharaju, a comedian). However, he did not become a full-fledged singer until his song "Yare Koogadali" from the movie Sampathige Sawal in 1974.[33] Prior to this, Rajkumar's songs were mostly sung by P. B. Srinivas.[6] After which, he sang in most of his movies and in many private albums, which were mainly devotional albums. His song renditions ranged from pure classical to disco and fast numbers to pathos. His fans of the days of black-and-white movies in the 1960s and 1970s, believe he was actually P. B. Srinivas, who did the playback singing for most of Rajkumar's movies, until Rajkumar himself started to sing. P. B. Srinivas continued singing for him in many of the movies in which Rajkumar starred in double/triple roles.[32]

His songs about Kannadigas, Kannada language and culture, such as "Jenina Holeyo" from Chalisuva Modagalu, "Maanavanagi Huttidmele" from Jeevana chaitra and "Huttidare Kannada" from the film Aakasmika. He sang a complete English song called "If You Come Today" ("Tick Tick Tick") in one of his Bond films – Operation Diamond Racket in 1978. This song became an internet meme in India following Rajkumar's demise in 2006.[31]

In his final years, Rajkumar lent his voice to a few other actors and sang many background solos. In the song Kannappa Kottanu,[34] from the 1993 movie Muddina Maava, wherein he provided playback to the singer S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, who acted in the movie.[32] This was a rare occasion where an actor sang for a singer. Kalidasa's shlokas (songs) like "Maanikya Veena" and ghazal based songs like "Sadaa Kannale", "Kanneera Dhaare" and "Yaava Kaviyu". In addition to his film work, he lent his voice for many devotional songs on Hanumantha and Sri Raghavendra Swami.[35]

Personal life


Rajkumar married Parvathamma, with whom he had 5 children (two daughters and three sons). Two of his sons – Shivrajkumar and Puneet Rajkumar – have become actors in the Kannada film industry.[7] His other son, Raghavendra Rajkumar, is an actor-turned-producer.[36] and grandson Vinay Rajkumar made his debut in Siddharta [37][38]

Kannada language movement

Although Rajkumar rejected numerous offers to don the political mantle, he was able to influence the State's political fortunes without ever being officially in politics. However, his apolitical outlook did not prevent him from protecting and espousing the cause of Kannada and Karnataka.[5] He had time and again advocated the cause of seeking primacy to Kannada,[39] and hence was asked to lead a movement about making Kannada a compulsory language for primary education based on the "Gokak report," popularly known as Gokak varadhi. He became actively involved in the movement and soon became the force behind the Gokak movement. He took a rally from Belgaum to Bangalore and gave speeches about the importance of Kannada. Millions of people gathered only to have a glimpse of Rajkumar and listen to his speech. The movement became such a rage that the government relented and made Kannada a compulsory language of education in Karnataka.[5]


Rajkumar was best regarded for being a highly disciplined man in both his personal and professional lives.[8] He practised Carnatic music for an hour each in the morning and in the evening. His punctuality is another noted aspect. Waking up every morning at 4, he performed Yoga and Pranayama, which is said to be the reason behind Rajkumar's physical and mental fitness. His yoga performances can be seen in his film Kaamana Billu.[40]

He was the epitome of good character in most of his films. He shunned smoking and drinking both on screen and off.[7] To avoid setting a precedent among his fans, he made sure that the roles he accepted did not require him to smoke or drink or utter swear words, and extended this decision to real life.[5] His dress code always consisted of simple white dhoti and shirt. He spent most of his vacations in his hometown, Gajanur, near the forest area where he was later abducted.[41]


On 30 July 2000, Rajkumar, his son-in-law Govindaraju, and two others were abducted by Veerappan from the actor's palatial house at Gajanur ( Erode district of Tamil Nadu). Veerappan demanded the release of his gang members who were being held in jail under a defunct anti-terrorism law. The event prompted a massive manhunt and threw the Karnataka government into crisis. The Supreme Court of India opined that it was "unpardonable" on the part of the Government of Tamil Nadu for not providing security to Rajkumar, although they had information a year earlier that he faced a threat of being kidnapped by Veerappan.[42] The Special Task Force (STF) set up to capture Veerapan had earlier warned Rajkumar against visiting the farmhouse, but his son Raghavendra Rajkumar later acknowledged that his father had not taken the threat seriously.[43]

After a total of 108 days in captivity, Rajkumar was released unharmed on 15 November 2000. His abduction and the manner in which his release was secured are a mystery.[9][35][44] Upon his return to Bangalore, he knelt down in front of the helicopter with his hands folded and paid respect to the Karnataka soil highlighting his Kannada pride.[24]

According to the Outlook magazine, there are many uncomfortable questions on the role played by the granite lobby in the whole kidnap and release of Dr. Raj. The granite mafia had links with Veerappan in the MM Hills region, and souring ties between them is said to have led to the abduction of Dr. Raj. Added to this mystery was the supposed links of Dr. Raj's son Appu with the granite lobby. According to officers of the Department of Mines and Geology, Karnataka, Puneet's name came up in 1995, when a raid was done on illegal quarries by the Kanakapura Police. Then the Minister for Mines and Geology M D Jayaram, of the H D Deve Gowda government had announced in the Karnataka Assembly, that Puneet was one of the many people who were raided. According to a Congress MLA, the matter was hushed up due to pressure exerted by the influential family. According to sources, Puneet owed the granite lobby 30-40 lakhs. These allegations were however denied by Appu.[45]


Rajkumar died at his home in Sadashivanagar, Bangalore on 12 April 2006 following a cardiac arrest. As per his wishes, his eyes were donated to 2 people the next day.[46][47]

The Karnataka government announced its intention to make a 100 million memorial in memory of Rajkumar at Kanteerava Studios. After Rajkumar's demise, as a tribute and remembrance his fans have unveiled more than 50 statues of Rajkumar, spread across Bangalore city.

Riots following death

His death precipitated a statewide reaction. Following the news of his death, there was major unrest in the city of Bangalore. The then Chief Minister, 30 Days.

His death sparked large violence in Bangalore, with violent fans resorting to stone throwing and arson. The suburbs mainly affected were Bellary Road, Magadi Road, Sadashivanagar, and the Kanteerava Indoor Stadium. The violence led to nearly 25 police personnel being injured, OB vans of private Media channels and reporters being attacked, petrol bunk near Hudson Circle being burnt, etc. Stones and bottles were thrown on building and vehicles by the grieving fans. In order to prevent attacks, vehicle drivers put up posters of Rajkumar on their windscreens.[48] The violence resulted in the death of 8 people, including a policeman (Manjunath Malladi (28)) who was lynched to death by the unruly mob. Hundreds of vehicles were damaged, including 20 police vehicles. About $40m losses were reported by software companies, as they had to shut down operations.[49][50] The Bangalore Police arrested nearly 742 people for rioting, with most being identified from news footage and video clippings.[51] Further the violence and police action resulted in more than 100 people being injured, which included many police personnel. 3 Petrol bunks were set on fire, 4 cinema halls burnt, 25 trucks parked in the Devraj Urs Terminal were destroyed. The Yeshwanthpur police station and the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) office, which were located on the funeral procession path were completely ransacked with Police vehicles set on fire. The body which was kept at the Kanteerava Stadium for public viewing was moved at 12.30pm to the Kanteerava Film Studios for final rites, and the fans who had been waiting in line to pay respects and were denied a chance resorted to violence. The funeral procession itself was marred with violence, with fans trying to forcibly barge in.[52][53]

The funeral procession covered K.R. Circle, Palace Road, T. Chowdiah Road, Cauvery Theatre Junction, Sadashivnagar, Yeshwantapur and Goraguntepalya, before reaching Kanteerva Studios. The fans stopped the cortege, and was allowed to proceed further after much pleading by Rajkumar's sons. As a result of the violence, the CM H D Kumaraswamy and then Deputy CM Yediyurappa could not make it for the final rites.[54] Parvathamma Rajkumar was also anguished as she was unable to see her husband's body for the last time because of the chaos.[55][56]


Biography: The book "Bangarada Manushya"

The book Bangarada Manushya, the chronicle of Rajkumar, is written by A. N. Prahlada Rao and was first released in 2005 in the presence of Rajkumar himself and ran into four editions. Baraguru Ramachandrappa called him as "Bevarina Manushya" (Successful because of his hardwork and dedication).[57] Besides recording his biography, it also explores his role of a singing star, and includes photographs from his films and other achievements.[58] The book has been translated into English by literary critic C.N. Ramachandran and journalist Alladi Jayashri and is titled as "Dr. Rajkumar: The Inimitable Actor With A Golden Voice"[59] and released by the actor's wife Parvathamma Rajkumar in May 2008 at Bangalore. To mark the completion of 75 years of Kannada film industry, the book was released in New Jersey, United States on 10 May 2008. Another book PRANA PADAKA written by A.N.Prahlada Rao, about Rajakumar, the Kannada Matnee idol. The book contains the some of the exciting incidents as recalling by Smt. Parvathamma Rajakumar. The book was released on 7 October 2013 by Vijayakumar, President, Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce and K.S.L.Swamy, the senior Kannada Film Director and Producer.[60]

Awards and honours

Rajkumar was awarded numerous State and National awards. He was a recipient of the Padma Bhushan award, a doctorate from Mysore University, and the Karnataka Ratna, the highest civilian honour of the State of Karnataka, recognising him as a "Jewel of Karnataka" In 1995 he received the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award for his outstanding contributions to the Kannada film industry. In 2011, during the 83rd birth anniversary of Rajkumar, the Chief Minister of Karnataka announced that the state government is recommending Rajkumar for a Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award of the country for his outstanding contribution to the film industry.[28][61]

National Film Awards

Filmfare Awards South

Rajkumar is an Ten time winner of South Filmfare Awards in the Best Actor category[63](a record which was later levelled by Kamal Haasan and Mammootty).[26][64] Some of the films for which he received Best Actor awards include:

Total of 10 filmfare awards for best actor category.

Karnataka State Film Awards

  • Total tally of 13 (9 for best actor, 2 for best singer, 1 lifetime achievement)

Best Actor

  • 1967-68 - Bangarada Hoovu
  • 1970-71 - Kula Gowrava
  • 1974-75 - Bhaktha Kumbara
  • 1976-77 - Babruvahana
  • 1981-82 - Hosa Belaku
  • 1982-83 - Halu Jenu
  • 1988-89 - Devatha Manushya
  • 1992-93 - Jeevana Chaithra
  • 1993-94 - Odahuttidavaru

Best Singer

  • 1993-94 - Aakasmika
  • 1994-95 - Thayi Illada Thavaru - Arishina kunkuma

Other awards and honours

  • Honorary Doctorate from the Mysore University in 1976[12]
  • Postal stamp and gold coins having the actor's face issued in 2009 by the honourable central government of India.
  • More than 1100 statues of Rajkumar are present all over karnataka. Recently a statue of the actor in Mayura touch(a movie in which he had acted in 1975)had been inaugurated in Kurubarahalli, Bangalore with a total cost of above 10 million rupees.
  • The Nadoja Award (an honorary doctorate) from Hampi University in 1999[66]
  • Nine Karnataka State Film Awards in the Best Actor category[64]
  • Two Karnataka State Film Awards in the Best Playback Singer category
  • Padma Bhushan award in 1983[13]
  • ETV Kannadiga of the Year Award in 2003[67]
  • Karnataka Ratna in 1992 and "Nata Saarvabhowma" (The Emperor of Acting) in 1967 by the Government of Karnataka.[12]
  • Kentucky colonel (Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels) honorary title by the governor of Kentucky, U.S in 1985.[12]
  • A 6-kilometre (3.7 mi) road has been named "Dr. Rajkumar Road" after Rajkumar.[68] The road stretches from Government Soap Factory in Yeshwanthpur to Prasanna Theater, Magadi Road in Bangalore.

Sarthaka Suvarna

In July 2005, the Government of Karnataka honored Rajkumar for his 50 years of service to the Kannada film industry at the Bangalore Palace in a ceremony called Sarthaka Suvarna. The felicitation ceremony was attended by the entire Kannada film industry as a mark of respect and tribute to the legend. The felicitation ceremony, arranged by the government led by N. Dharam Singh,[69] was a success.


At Kanteerava Studios, the Karnataka Government is setting up a memorial for Rajkumar at an estimated cost of 100 million.[70] The blueprint of the memorial was constituted by a panel comprising Rajkumar's family members, representatives of the Kannada film industry and the state government.

A permanent exhibition on the history of the Kannada film industry and Rajkumar's movies will be an integral part of the memorial. In respect of Rajkumar's prolonged association with the studio, the actor's trophies and souvenirs will be put up for exhibition at the memorial. It will also have a stock of movies, dialogue, scripts, songs and other memorabilia associated with the actor.[1] The studio, located in Nandini Layout in the northern part of Bangalore, has become a pilgrim and tourist spot since Rajkumar's death, with thousands of fans coming to pay homage to his memory.[70] A calendar is released every year containing rare photographs of Rajkumar and stills from his popular films.[71] The inauguration of the Dr Rajkumar Memorial on November 29 in presence of Rajinikanth, Chiranjeevi

See also


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  4. ^ Katakam, Anupama (8 December 2000). "The eternal Kannada icon". Frontline. Bangalore. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Sharma, Ravi (5 May 2006). "Pride of Kannada". Frontline. Bangalore. 
  6. ^ a b c "Nata Saarvabhouma Dr Rajkumar no more". Deccan Herald. 12 April 2006. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "Rajkumar, Beloved Indian Film Star, Dies at 77".  
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  9. ^ a b Times of India – Total recall of 109 days of kidnap drama. The Times of (29 July 2001).
  10. ^ a b Deccan Herald News Service – Eight deaths and a funeral. Deccan Herald. (14 April 2006).
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  13. ^ a b "Padma Awards Directory (1954–2009)" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
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  17. ^ Talavadi: A bone of contention. Rediff (31 July 2000).
  18. ^ "Constable's Hand Atlas of India". Retrieved 2013-10-30. 
  19. ^ Saran, Renu. History of Indian Cinema. Diamond Pocket Books Pvt Ltd. 
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  30. ^ Shivaraj Kumar to play James Bond in Operation Golden Gang. (20 July 2010).
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  33. ^ "Sampathige Savaal Songs - Sampathige Savaal Kannada Movie Songs - Kannada Songs Lyrics Trailer Videos, Preview Stills Reviews". Retrieved 2013-10-30. 
  34. ^ Video on YouTube
  35. ^ a b "Dr. Rajkumar Biography, India Great Celebrity, Short essay on Dr. Rajkumar". Retrieved 2013-10-30. 
  36. ^ "Raghavendra Rajkumar to croon for Puneet's Anna Bond". 13 June 2011. 
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  41. ^ Times of India – Gajanur awaits the return of the native. The Times of (12 November 2001).
  42. ^ (Press Trust of India) – TN's failure on Rajkumar's security unpardonable – SC. The Indian Express.
  43. ^ Veerappan's prize catch. The Hindu (20 December 1998).
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  50. ^ Ramachandran, Sudha (22 April 2006). "'"Bengaluru: 'We want our city back!. Asia Times. Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
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