She might be known as the wife of the most popular actor of the Kannada Film Industry but only a few, the insiders, know about her entrepreneurial achievements, her vigor and her contribution in shaping up the careers of her husband, Rajkumar, and sons – Shivrajkumar, Raghavendra Rajkumar and Puneeth Rajkumar, and with that has shaped the Kannada Film Industry too.
Married at the early age of 13, Parvathamma hailed from Saligrama village of Mysuru district. Back she married the icon Rajkumar, he had yet to debut in films but had the aspirations. Once in an interview, Parvathamma confessed to her desire to continue her studies and become a doctor but her family chose marriage over her dreams. Though she was naïve when she married Rajkumar, over the years, she transformed herself into a formidable force both in his personal and professional life.
Beginning of the legacy
Parvathamma’s first official stint with films began with the establishment of Poornima Productions with her husband, Rajkumar. The company not only produced films but also distributed. It is said that until Rajkumar crossed the 100 film mark, she voluntarily stayed away from his film decisions. It is only when she believed that people might take advantage of his innocence, she stepped up and took charge of his life which in a way made him an icon from a “hero”.
Veteran filmmaker S K Bhagwan who helmed 32 films of Rajkumar as a director had said one could never imagine Rajkumar without remembering Parvathamma further shedding light on the extent of influence she has had. The fact that she was the wife of the icon, most of her achievements was prone to be considered as a privilege.
Contribution to Kannada Film Industry
The year 1980 marked the arrival of Vajreshwari Combines that, till now, has produced over 83 films – from its first film Shankar Guru starring Rajkumar to Run Anthony starring her grandson Vinay Rajkumar. Vajreshwari Combines has a remarkable success rate of over 70 films creating havoc at the box office. The decision to launch the company was to facilitate Rajkumar’s career which suffered a lean patch during those times.
In order to raise funds to produce films, Parvathamma built open-air theatres and organized music festivals. She was, according to the director Rajendra Singh Babu, pioneering the Kannada Film Industry.
In the early 80s, most of Rajkumar’s success is credited to Parvathamma as he handpicked films for him. As an avid reader of Kannada novels, she was instrumental in picking films based on books like Eradu Kanasu, Girikanye, Hosabelaku, Anuraga Aralithu, Samayada Gombe, Vasantha Geetha, and Jeevana Chaitra.
Philanthropic Work and Accolades
In 1998, in order to rehabilitate destitute women, Parvathamma founded Shakti Dhama that has carried out most of the philanthropic work of the family. The Karnataka Government has awarded various accolades including the State award and Kannada Rajyotsava Award. Bangalore University also conferred her a doctorate title.
While Parvathamma was happy enough to stay away from the limelight and guide her husband and sons who themselves have been an inspiration to others, the role of Parvathamma cannot be sidelined.
This international woman’s day, it is time we acknowledge the spirit of Parvathamma Rajkumar who was more than her second name and a force that continues to drive the industry.
As the writer Baraguru Ramachandrappa had said, a woman from a rural background going onto produce, finance and distribute 83 films is no less than a historic feat in the Indian film Industry.