Missing: Maybe Puru Raaj Kumar was a victim of misfortune
Bollywood is not for everyone.
Some realise it sooner and tread different paths to make different achievements in life, while others keep trying till the industry throws them off.
In this giant rigmarole of realisations and refusals, we have seen many of our beloved celebs fading out into oblivion, leaving us wondering, “where are they, how are they...?”
This “Missing Report” series digs deep into the untold stories of such missing stars, and today we are covering Puru Raaj Kumar. who was the son of yesteryears’ iconic Raj Kumar.
Goes without saying that it was a cakewalk for the star-kid to get his foot in the Bollywood threshold. His debut happened in 1996 opposite not just an A-lister, but the Box-office favorite Karisma Kapoor, in Bal Brahmachari. Despite having a storyline strategically woven around him to establish him as the next go-to, the film turned out to be a total washout.
He had decided to join the industry after completing his degree in Economics, Psychology, and Theater from Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania, in the hopes of replicating his father's stardom. But gaining even a fraction of that success appeared tough for the lad who had also lost his father months before his first film hit the theaters. Raj Kumar’s son had failed to woo his audience with his debut and was up for an uphill battle of survival in the industry.
Luck or the lack thereof played a significant role in frustrating his plans every time Puru geared up for anew. One reason his career need took off was most of the movies that had signed him in pivotal roles, like Kabhi Kabhi Aisa Bhi Hota Hain, Desh, Mohabbat Ho Gayee Hain Tumse, or Raghuvanshi, got shelved.
Puru waited for his next opportunity for four years, and hit the silver screen in a whole new avatar, this time in a negative role. Won’t be an exaggeration if we said that the portrayal of the vicious rapist ‘Babloo Choudhry’ in the Aishwarya Rai-Anil Kapoor starer Humara Dil Aapke Paas Hai is his only memorable performance that has stayed carved in the audience’s otherwise flimsy memory even after 20 years.
Impressed by his essaying of ‘Babloo Chaudhury’, filmmakers started showing up at his door with offers, albeit, of playing the bad guy. He was being considered for a major role in Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai’s action-thriller, Josh that had released in 2000. Some miscellaneous misunderstanding coaxed him to decline the offer which later fell in the lap of Sharad Kapoor. Nevertheless, Puru managed to get multiple releases the following year that include Mission Kashmir and Khatron ke Khiladi.
Eventually, he began taking up supporting characters, but in films of big banners featuring industry headliners, glimpses of Puru often slipped through the popcorn-munching, coffee-sipping breaks. Almost all of us have seen Umrao Jaan, Jaago, Veer, and LOC Kargil. But only a handful of us may have taken notice of the Bal Brahmachari actor in those. He was never handed a script suggesting he would be the leading man; what came to him was mostly inconsequential. Puru was last seen in Ajay Devgn and Sonakshi Sinha’s 2014 movie, Action Jackson.
His personal life has been just as rocky as his professional. He was briefly engaged to socialite Ramona Garware, the surviving wife of deceased industrialist Jaideep Garware. In 1993, much like the Salman Khan hit-and-run case, Puru got embroiled in an accident in Bandra when he ran his car over 4 homeless people asleep on the street, killing two and injuring the other. He paid a hefty compensation to their families and escaped a long jail term. Life turned a new leaf for Puru in 2011 when he tied the knot with Croatian model Koraljika Grdak after a 7-year-long courtship. It was a closed traditional ceremony in the capital city of Croatia. The couple is settled in Mumbai.