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RIP Raju Srivastava: The Gajodhar Bhaiya we all knew

Raju Srivastava passed away today, September 21. The comedian will always be remembered as Gajodhar Bhaiya and for his brilliant mimicry.

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Raju Srivastava, popularly known as Gajodhar Bhaiya, is no more. Photo: Mandar Deodhar.
Raju SrivastavaRaju Srivastava, popularly known as Gajodhar Bhaiya, is no more. Photo: Mandar Deodhar.

By Shweta Keshri: Raju Srivastava is no more. He breathed his last at the age of 58. He was admitted to AIIMS Delhi on August 10 after experiencing chest pain and collapsing while working out at the gym. The comedian came to Mumbai from Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, in the 80s, with several dreams in his eyes. His initial days in the Maximum City were not easy. As he began to run out of money that he brought from home, he started driving a taxi to make ends meet. Initially, Raju did small roles in films like Tezaab (1988), Maine Pyar Kiya (1989) and Baazigar (1993) to survive in the city until he bagged a show on Doordarshan.

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Raju Srivastava's first big break was with Tea Time Manoranjan, a comedy show that aired on Doordarshan in 1994 - yes, the same year Sushmita Sen did us proud on the Miss Universe stage. Produced by Sri Adhikari Brothers, it became a launchpad for many celebrities, which included Vrajesh Hirjee and Smriti Irani, apart from Raju Srivastava. He was later seen as Dhurandhar Singh in Shaktimaan - a show that will forever remain close to the heart of every 90s kid.

However, The Great Indian Laughter Challenge (TGILC) was the turning point in Raju Srivastava's professional life. He appeared as a contestant in the first season of the comedy reality show in 2005. Sunil Pal was the winner, while Raju was the second runner-up, but it was mostly Raju's video clips that had gone viral in those days. People shared recorded pieces of his gigs from The Great Indian Laughter Challenge episode as Gajodhar Bhaiya - a character he made immortal - to cheer up their friends and family.

Post The Great Indian Laughter Challenge, there was no looking back for Raju Srivastava. He incorporated his keen observation into his stand-up comedy act. His perfect comic timing managed to crack up the audience every time he was on stage. Nearly four years after appearing on TGILC, Raju Srivastava was seen as a contestant on Bigg Boss 3 in 2009. He had a short but memorable stint on the show. There was also his brief appearance on Nach Baliye, where he participated with his wife, Shikha Srivastava.

Between 2007 and 2014, Raju Srivastava was a regular on Comedy Circus. And every time, he stole the show with his expressions and brilliant mimicry. Who can forget the time he appeared as different types of firecrackers in a Diwali special act for The Great Indian Laughter Challenge? A firecracker performance, indeed!

Here's Raju Srivastava's Diwali special comic act:

Raju Srivastava might be the best mimicry artiste and a brilliant comedian who left many in splits when he took the mic on the stage. But, for people like me who hail from small towns, he made small town people and their antics famous. If you are from a North Indian town, you might have surely come across someone like Gajodhar Bhaiya or someone similar. No wonder he tickled the funny bone of many. Thank you Gajodhar Bhaiya, for making us laugh.

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