Raju Srivastava: Superstar of stand-up comedy

Raju Srivastava was one of those youths who got fond of acting and films after watching superstar Amitabh Bachchan. When Amitabh Bachchan became a superstar from Zanjeer and became an angry young man, he gave blockbuster films like Sholay, Trishul, Deewar, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, then Raju was known as Satya Prakash Srivastava. He was on the verge of being young at that time and he too was admired by Amitabh Bachchan. He started mimicking Amitabh and moved from Kanpur to Maya city of Mumbai. Raju saw Big B in himself and got the hairstyle done the same as Big B.

Amitabh’s mimicry done by Raju was liked, but soon Raju understood that all this was not going to last long. He got small roles in films. Like a truck cleaner in Maine Pyar Kiya (1989) and a college student in Baazigar. One or two dialogues got to be spoken on the stage show. Had to struggle hard and Raju did not get work in films according to his talent.

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In such a situation, television proved to be a boon for artists like Raju Srivastava. Here he became a stand-up comedian. Second runner-up in ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge’ and after that there was no looking back. The advantage of this was that he got a lot of private shows.

There is so much work stress in multinational and corporate offices that employees forget to laugh. In such a situation, Raju was called in these offices where he used to make people laugh with his jokes and forget the stress of work for a while.

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Raju’s car got out of the TV show and private show. Which also benefited that he also appeared in reality shows like Bigg Boss (2009) and Nach Baliye (2013). Apart from this, The Great Indian Laughter Challenge (2005), Comedy Circus (2007 to 2014), Comedy Ka Mahamuqabla (2011), Raju Hazar Ho (2008), Comedy Nights with Kapil (2013-2016), Gangs of Hansipur (2014) and Be a part of The Kapil Sharma Show (2016). Raju made people laugh a lot through these shows.

Raju was from a middle class family, so he was well acquainted with the thinking, struggle, hardships of life, financial constraints of the middle class family. All these things became the spice in his comedy. He also used to say that during the days of my struggle, I traveled a lot in buses and trains. The whole of India gathers there. I haven’t stopped reading and listening to people. Maybe they like my stay connected to the ground.

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Wedding parties, relatives’ actions, friends’ fun, wife’s fear, one sided love, unsuccessful lover, unemployment, mingling with locals became a permanent part of Raju’s comedy. Laughingly, he used to tell the sad tales of middle class families and the same thing touched the hearts of the common people.

Raju did not spare even the leaders. He had a lot of fun on Dawood and Pakistan. To such an extent that he started being threatened by Pakistan to stop jokes on Dawood and Pakistan. This was the measure of Raju’s popularity.

Such was the popularity of Raju that the Samajwadi Party had given ticket to Raju from Kanpur for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. A few days later, Raju returned the ticket saying that he was not getting support from his own party. After that he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.

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In comedy, many times comedians cross the line and reach the limits of obscenity. Raju escaped by touching the border several times. He used to make fun of himself. A handful of standup comedians emerged in the last few years, with Raju in the lead. Raju was also popular on social media and his clips were shared regularly. On this pretext, he always remained in the discussion.

In India, artist and comedian are considered to be of different categories, whereas comedian is also an artist. Raju had to say about this that I am an artist, not a comedian. It is believed here in us whereas in foreign countries it is not so. There he considers comedy as a branch of acting. According to Raju, Jim Carrey-like popularity cannot be achieved in India because comedians and their films are considered to be cynical.

Raju, who made crores of people laugh, was a fan of whom? On this he used to take the name of Johnny Lever with whom he did more than five hundred shows. This was when Raju was not a popular face.

Raju, who laughed all his life, made everyone cry by saying goodbye to the world at the age of 58. Raju Srivastava was hospitalized for the past one and a half months. He suffered a heart attack while exercising in the gym.


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