Known for his earthy humour and inimitable delivery style, comedian Raju Srivastav, who became a household name in his delightful ‘Gajodhar Bhaiyya’ persona, breathed his last on Wednesday, September 21, aged 59. The popular comedian battled for his life for 43 days.
He passed away at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), where he had been rushed on August 9 after he complained of chest pain and collapsed in the South Delhi gym where he was working out.
Srivastav was at once moved to the Intensive Care Unit and put on a ventilator. Doctors had then said that he had suffered brain damage.
Born on December 25, 1963, Satya Prakash Srivastava, who later became famous as Raju Srivastava, came from a middle-class family in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
A gifted mimic, the comedy star had his share on initial struggles before attracting notice by mimicking megastar Amitabh Bachchan’s iconic baritone voice. That got him invited to stage shows both within and outside India.
He first appeared in small roles in Bollywood films, such as the 1989 Salman Khan-starrer ‘Maine Pyaar Kiya’, where he essayed the role of Shambhu, a house help. He then appeared in Shah Rukh Khan’s defining film ‘Baazigar’, which was released in 1993.
Srivastava was then seen in films such as ‘Aamdani Atthani Kharcha Rupaiyaa’ (2001), ‘Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon’ (2003), ‘Big Brother’ (2007) and ‘Bombay To Goa’ (2007), among many others.
His big breakthrough came in 2005, however, with the first season of ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge’, which opened the doors for him in the world of stand-up comedy.
He finished as second runner-up and then took part in the spin-off, ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge – Champions’, where he was feted with the title of ‘The King of Comedy’.
In 2009, he took over the cameras, quite literally, as he joined the reality show ‘Bigg Boss 3’. Following that, he was seen in ‘Comedy Ka Maha Muqabala’.
The beauty of his life was that he constantly kept pushing the envelope. In 2013, Srivastava, along with his wife Shikha, participated in the popular dance show ‘Nach Baliye’ Season 6. Soon thereafter, he also appeared on ‘Comedy Nights with Kapil’.
He even branched out into politics! The Samajwadi Party fielded Srivastava from Kanpur in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, but he returned the ticked and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. Prime Minister Narendra Modi named him to be a part of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, for which he has shot various TV commercials and social service video.
He is survived by Shikha, whom he married in 1993, and their children Antara and Ayushman.