The Indian comedy scene lost a luminous figure this morning as stand-up comedian Raju Srivastava died after being admitted in a hospital following a heart attack on August 10.
Srivastava, who received widespread recognition after participating in the first season of the stand-up comedy show ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge’ in 2005, was part of the Indian entertainment industry since the late 1980s.
Born Satya Prakash Srivastava on December 25, 1963, to a middle-class family in Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, his father, Ramesh Chandra Srivastava was a poet known as Balai Kaka. Since his childhood, Srivastava was fond of doing mimicry, which is why he wanted to be a comedian.
After completing his early studies in Kanpur, Srivastava shifted to Mumbai with the dream of becoming a comedian. He started his career by doing small roles in Bollywood films.
The first part he played was in the 1998 film ‘Tezaab’, which was followed by the 1989 Salman Khan starrer ‘Maine Pyaar Kiya’ and ‘Baazigar’ in 1993. Apart from these, he also worked in ‘Aamdani Atthani Kharcha Rupaiyaa’, ‘Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon’, ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Bombay to Goa’ among several other films.
On July 1, 1993, Raju married Shikha from Lucknow and the duo had two children, Antara and Ayushman.
Srivastava then decided to venture into stand-up comedy after he took part as a contestant in Star One’s show ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge’ in 2005, where his comedy got a new identity. He bagged the first runner-up place in the show.
During his stint on the show and even after that Srivastava, who was known most for his acute scrutiny and comical timing about various Indian aspects of life, became very popular for his stage character ‘Gajodhar Bhaiya’.
Subsequently, he also took part in the show’s spin-off, ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge - Champions’, where he won the title of ‘The King of Comedy’.
After gaining popularity as a comedian, he worked in TV shows like ‘Bigg Boss’, ‘Comedy Circus’, ‘Raju Hazir Ho’, ‘Comedy Ka Maha Muqabala’ and ‘Laugh India Laugh’. In 2009, he participated in Colors TV’s dance reality show ‘Nach Baliye’ as a dance couple with his wife Shikha. Raju also appeared on ‘Comedy Nights with Kapil’.
After conquering the world of comedy and making a permanent place in his audience’s heart, he also expanded his reigns in politics. For the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the Samajwadi Party fielded him from Kanpur.
However, Srivastava returned the ticket on March 11, 2014, stating he was not getting enough support from the party’s local units. Following this, on March 19, 2014, he joined the Bhartiya Janta Party, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi nominated him to be part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
Since then, through his events in different cities, Srivastava promoted cleanliness and made various music videos for the cause. He also shot various TV commercials and social service message videos for ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’.
The comedian was admitted to the hospital on August 10 after a heart attack. He was experiencing chest pain and collapsed while working out at the gym. Post this, his trainer took him to the hospital.
Reportedly, the 58-year-old was running on the treadmill when he complained about chest pain. He underwent an angioplasty the same day. After staying on the ventilator for several weeks, he finally passed away on September 21.
In a world where people struggle with sorrows and disappointments on a daily basis, Raju Srivastava’s comedy brought that much-needed spark of laughter to the common Indian. Though the ace comedian will never crack a joke again, his legacy of jokes, laughter and joy will continue to live for generations to come.
Let’s have a look back at Raju Srivastava’s popular movies in which he shared screen space with Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and other Bollywood superstars, performing small roles, before establishing himself as one of India’s premier standup comedians:
Raju Srivastava in ‘Baazigar’ (1993)
Raju Srivastava played the role of a college student in Shah Rukh Khan’s starrer ‘Baazigar’. In the movie, a young man with a vendetta against a business tycoon seduces the man’s younger daughter, but she begins to suspect her new lover’s connection with her elder sister and his ulterior motive. Directed by Abbas Alibhai Burmawalla and Mastan Alibhai Burmawalla. The movie also starred Kajol and Dalip Tahil.
Raju Srivastava in ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’ (1989)
Raju appeared in a cameo role of a driver as a local thug in Salman Khan starrer ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’. The romantic-drama flick featuring Khan and Bhagyashree was released across the country in 1989 and is known to be one of the classic films of Indian cinema. Directed by Sooraj R Barjatya.
Raju Srivastava in ‘Aamdani Atthanni Kharcha Rupaiya’ (2001)
Raju Srivastav played a role of Baba Chin Chin Choo in the movie. In the movie, three women step out of their houses for earning. However, this irks their jobless husbands who can go to extreme lengths to stop them. Directed by K. Raghavendra Rao and A.S. Ravindra Babu. The movie starred Govinda, Juhi Chawla and Tabu.
Raju Srivastava in ‘Qaidi’ (2002)
Raju played the role of Havaldaar in the film. The action movie was directed by T.L.V. Prasad and starred Archana, Mithun Chakraborty and Raza Murad.
Raju Srivastava in ‘Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon’ (2003)
In the movie, Raju was seen in his biggest role as a servant. This is the story of Sanjana, a girl of today’s generation full of life and vibrant ecstasy. She lives life on her own terms and gets very upset when her mother Susheela, arranges for her to see a boy leading to a marriage prospect. Directed by Sooraj R. Barjatya, the film starred Hrithik Roshan, Kareena Kapoor and Abhisekh Bachchan.