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The only comedian whom even the boom of Mehmood could not shake, had a special relationship with Raj Kapoor, how to become ‘Popatlal’

Comedian Mehmood dominated the entire Hindi cinema in the 60s and 70s. Even great actors like Johnny Walker were not able to stand in his storm, but there was only one comedian of Bollywood, whom even Mahmood’s boom could not shake. He was Rajendra Nath. His presence in the film means laughter is certain. Even if he stood silently in a scene, the audience of that era used to stop laughing just by seeing him. But do you know the story of his ruin? How his bad luck and a wrong decision drowned him, after which he became addicted to pie pie.

There were only a few such great actors in Hindi cinema, who played every character in such a way that that character itself became their identity. Rajendra Nath, born on 8 June 1931 in Tikamgarh, Madhya Pradesh, is one of those lunar artists. People know him more by the name of ‘Popatlal’ than by his real name. Rajendra Nath’s father Kartar Nath Malhotra used to be the IG of the British. He wanted to make his son a doctor. He was posted in Rewa, so he also got his son’s schooling done from a big school. But little did Kartar Nath know that his son had written Hindi cinema in his destiny.

wanted to make father a doctor
Comedian Rajendra Nath was not very good in studies. He didn’t even feel like studying. That’s why his family members understood that becoming a doctor is not in his capability. When he was asked what do you want to do, he told without hesitation that he wants to act in cinema. His elder brother Premnath was also an actor.

How to become ‘Popatlal’
After completing his studies, he told his brother that he also wanted to act. Brother called in Mayanagari. Rajendra Nath’s sister Krishna was married to Prithviraj Kapoor’s son Raj Kapoor, so she got help in Bombay. Rajendra Nath joined Prithvial Theatre, after which he participated in plays like Deewaar, Ahuti, Pathan and Shakuntala. Rajendra Nath came to films after several months of struggle but his initial films were flops. Rajendra Nath played the role of ‘Popatlal’ in the 1961 film ‘Jab Jab Phool Khile’. That character was such a hit that people started remembering him as Popatlal instead of Rajendra Nath.

This was the biggest mistake of Rajendra Nath
He did not stop just after that day, till 1998, Rajendra Nath was a part of about 253 films. Apart from comedy, he decided to make films. But this big decision proved to be the biggest mistake of his life. The very first film drowned him in huge debt. That film was ‘The Gate Crasher’. Neetu Singh and Randhir Kapoor were in the lead roles in the film. Sikandar Khanna was made director by paying a huge fee. Rajendra had expertise in comedy, but he had no experience in film making. They didn’t even know how much fees the cast, crew, and director had to pay. Whoever asked for the fee, Rajendra gave it hand in hand. Due to over budget, the shooting of the film stopped within 10 days.

When the comedian said, ‘Distributors made me cry tears of blood’
During an interview, he told that the distributors of UP and Delhi made me cry tears of blood to repay the loan. Despite knowing my condition, people took more interest from me and got them to withdraw every penny. To repay the loans, he acted again and could pay the interest from the money he got from films. Rajendra Nath, completely ruined, cried from inside, but was making people laugh with his character. For 20 years, he repaid his loan.

When he was freed from debt, the death of his brothers broke him.
It was with great difficulty that he came out of this sorrow that first the death of elder brother and then the news of the death of younger brother Narendranath in an accident broke him. After the death of both his brothers, he fell into depression and distanced himself from the film world. He was last seen in the TV serial Hum Paanch.

Tags: Entertainment Special, Raj kapoor



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