From Driving Auto-Rickshaw, Earning Rs 50 Per Gig To Becoming A Household Name

New Delhi: Popular comedian Raju Srivastava passed away at 58 on Wednesday. The comedian, who was admitted to AIIMS after a heart attack on August 10, took his last breath at 10.20 am, after 41 days of hospitalisation. 

Born as Satya Prakash Srivastava, on December 25, 1963, in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, Raju hailed from a middle-class family. His father, Ramesh Chandra Srivastava, known as Balai Kaka, was a poet from Kanpur. Raju loved mimicking since childhood and used to imitate his teachers, and do cricket commentary of matches in his area. 

The comedian came to Mumbai to join the entertainment industry in the 1980s but he rose to fame rose to fame with the first-of-its-kind stand-up comedy talent hunt show ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge’, in 2005. He started driving an auto to make his ends meet during his initial days and used to entertain his riders on the trip. The entertainment session during the auto ride mostly prompted people to give him tips. He slowly started getting gigs for Rs 50 mainly because he could mimic Amitabh Bachchan. 

Raju started his career by imitating Amitabh Bachchan and mimicked many other actors before becoming one of the highest-paid comedians in the country. He had spoken about his struggling days and his journey on ‘Aap Ki Adalat’ when he appeared on the show more than a decade ago. “I was very young when I made Amitabh Bachchan my idol. Even after all these years, I have no qualms in saying that he remains my idol, and will always be. I was jobless and hungry when I came to Mumbai first. I got my first gig only because I could imitate his voice, and say his famous dialogues. Because of him (Amitabh), I could buy food, I earned my first ₹50… then ₹100.” 

His stage characters of Gajodhar and Manodhar on ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge’ have been loved by everyone. 

Raju appeared in many Hindi films such as ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’, ‘Baazigar’, ‘Bombay to Goa’ (remake) and ‘Aamdani Atthani Kharcha Rupaiya’. He was one of the contestants on ‘Bigg Boss’ season three. He was the chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Film Development Council.