New Delhi: Comedian-actor Raju Srivastava breathed his last breath at the age of 58, on Wednesday at AIIMS Delhi, after being admitted there following a heart attack on August 10.
Raju, 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, Raju was fond of doing mimicry, which is why he wanted to be a comedian.
After completing his early studies in Kanpur, Raju 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.
Raju 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 Raju, 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, Raju 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, Raju 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.