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Rashmi Rekha Das

The death of comedy king Raju Srivastava has shrouded the entire film industry in a pall of gloom. As news of his demise began trickling in, film stars and politicians took to social media to express their dismay and condolences for Raju.

Despite being a gifted mimic, the laughter king had his share of 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.

Known as an Amitabh Bachchan look-alike, Raju started his career by doing small roles in Bollywood films. He had a part in Maine Pyar Kiya and other small roles in various movies such as Baazigar and Bombay to Goa. He worked as an actor and comedian in Aamdani Atthanni Kharcha Rupaiya. 

However, the road to success was not very smooth. It was only after 20 years, in 2005 that the years of struggle bore fruits when he finally got recognition after participating in The Great Indian Laughter challenge.  Raju became popular as 'Gajodhar Bhaiyya' after appearing in The Great Indian Laughter Challenge.  His demise, no doubt, has created a deep void in comedy genre. Let’s dig into the career of the humorist who made a place for himself in our hearts forever.

Born as Satya Prakash Srivastava in Kanpur of Uttar Pradesh on 25 December 1963, his innate comedic talent was noticed as a young boy. Art was in his blood as his father Ramesh Chandra Srivastava, known as ‘Balai Kaka’, was a famous Hindi poet. 

He started mimicry as a schoolboy and was also famous for his cricket commentary in his area.

According to sources, when he came to Mumbai, he drove an auto for some time till he got work in movies. The report also mentions that he would do stand-up comedy shows for even Rs 50 when he was struggling. 

After The Great Indian Laughter, there was no looking back for him. He became a sought-after stand-up comedian. He was known for his political mimicry and has done impressions of Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav and even PM Narendra Modi.

Raju Srivastava ventured into stand-up comedy with the talent show The Great Indian Laughter Challenge. He managed to finish as the second runner-up, subsequently taking part in the spin-off, The Great Indian Laughter Challenge - Champions. He won the title of The King of Comedy there. 

The comedian also participated in Bigg Boss Season 3. After staying in the house for more than two months he was voted out. He later participated in the comedy show Comedy Ka Maha Muqabala. In 2013, Raju, along with his wife, participated in Nach Baliye Season 6. He has also appeared on Comedy Nights with Kapil.

Raju appeared in a show called Mazaak Mazaak Mein aka The Indian Mazaak League. It was a stand-up comedy show which had popular cricketers Harbhajan Singh and Shoaib Akhtar as the judges.

He even branched out into politics. The Samajwadi Party fielded Srivastav from Kanpur in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, but he returned the ticket and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. Prime Minister Narendra Modi named him to be 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.

Raju Srivastava was working out on the treadmill at a hotel in Delhi on August 10 when the 58-year-old celebrated comedian suffered a heart attack. He was immediately taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and underwent angioplasty. Since then, he was on the ventilator and never gained consciousness. He succumbed after battling for life over 40 days.

Soon after Raju’s death news spread like wildfire, condolences poured in from artistes from across the country. Let’s have a look..

"Raju Srivastava Om Shanti RIP," wrote veteran filmmaker Rakesh Roshan on Instagram. There will never be another Raju Srivastava, said comedian Rehman Khan.

"Raju Bhai Aap jaisa na koi tha na koi aayega , bahot yaad aaoge aap #RIP #rajusrivastava," he tweeted.

Actor Nimrat Kaur and director Sanjay Gupta remembered the comedian too.

"Deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Late Raju Srivastava ji. May God bless his journey into the light #RIPRajuSrivastava," Kaur tweeted.

"Rest In Peace Raju. Thank you for all these years of fun and laughter," said Gupta. 
Union Home Minister Amit Shah extended condolences on the demise of the comedian and said that his death is a "great loss" to the art world.

"Renowned comedian Raju Srivastava ji had a unique style, he impressed everyone with his amazing talent. His death is a great loss to the art world. I express my condolences to his family and fans. May God give them the strength to bear this grief," he tweeted in Hindi.
Anguished to hear about the demise of Comedy Legend Raju Srivastav Ji.An Entertainer par Excellence, his mannerisms & observational comedy truly mirrored the daily life of us Indians.My condolences to his family members. Om Shanti,” Union minister Nitin Gadkari said.

BJP national president JP Nadda also expressed sorrow over the demise of the comedian and said that he left a "different mark" in the world of comedy.

Film director Vivek Agnihotri shared a video message on Twitter to express his grief. He said, "...An artiste like him is rarely seen, India hasn't seen another like him. I pray that his soul rests in peace. My prayers are with his family, fans."

"Jeena yahan marna yahan". With these words immortalised by the voice of Mukesh in Raj Kapoor's classic 'Mera Naam Joker', popular comedienne Bharti Singh remembered the late Raju Srivastava.

Bharti said from the sets of a show she is working on: "Just a few days back, I spoke to his wife and told her that he will be fine. He had made everyone laugh, so God will do justice to him. She asked me to pray for him and I said I pray for him every day. But today, just five minutes ago, I came to know about his demise and it came as a shock to me during the shoot."

She told IANS: "I am at the shoot and have to make everyone laugh, but I don't know how to do it. I am in pain but even then I can't say this to anyone that I want to cry."

"I have watched his movies and as a comedienne I learned a lot from him, but now who is going to guide us when the king of comedy is no more. I watched him on 'The Great Indian Laughter Challenge', he inspired me a lot. It's a great loss for the entire country. I don't have words to express how I am feeling right now."

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