Raju Srivastav’s ‘Gajodhar bhaiya’ made him a fan favourite: A look at the comedian’s television stint

Raju Srivastava passed away today after 41 days in the intensive care unit. The comedian-actor suffered a heart attack while working out at the gym last month. The 58-year-old artist is survived by his wife and two children.

Born into a middle-class family in Kanpur, Raju Srivastava fell on his imitation skills from an early age. In an old interview, Srivastava had mentioned how he would wait for the performance of school events on stage. With a dream of spreading laughter, he began his career as a comedian and soon after moved to Mumbai. He was once noticed impersonating Amitabh Bachchan and was soon receiving offers to impersonate him on screen. The comedian has consistently praised Big B for helping him jumpstart his career.

After starring in films such as Maine Pyaar Kiya, Aamdani Atthani Kharcha Rupaiyaa and Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon among others, his career took off after he competed in the Great Indian Laughter Challenge. As one of the country’s first stand-up shows, the show breathed new life into not only Srivastava but also his fellow competitors including Sunil Pal, Naveen Prabhakar and Bhagwant Mann who is now the Punjab CM.

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In this show, Raju Srivastava began appearing as Gajodhar bhaiya, a character he said was inspired by a barber in his hometown. “He had quite a talent for storytelling, and he would tell the most eccentric stories in an animated way,” the comedian had said in a 2012 interview with Zoom TV in Funniest Way. The character would have his hands behind his head while he spoke, a Characteristic that is still copied by fans. His accent and the way he innocently insulted the listeners made the character very endearing, and Srivastava found a new identity that later became as popular as he did.

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In the same interview, Srivastava also spoke about how late stand-up was recognized in India. After the show, however, everyone’s lives changed overnight. “We used to get 2000 rupees for shows and then we were instantly paid 2-5 lakh. We were invited to perform abroad and soon we had bought all the houses and cars in Mumbai. It was incredible,” he added.

After coming second in The Great Indian Laughter Challenge, Raju Srivastava starred in its spin-off The Great Indian Laughter Challenge – Champions and was awarded the title of King of Comedy. In 2008 he also got a solo show Raju Hazir Ho aired on Imagine TV. The artist has also been part of shows like Comedy Nights with Kapil, The Kapil Sharma Show and Mazaak Mazaak Mein and even hosted Gangs of Haseepur on Zee TV in 2014.


Aside from comedy, Srivastava also took part in Bigg Boss 3 and Nach Baliye 6. On the controversial reality show, which was then hosted by Amitabh Bachchan, the comedian was hugely popular with audiences and housemates alike. Only with Kamaal Rashid Khan aka KRK did the comedian once lose his temper and get into fights. His conversations with Big B also made for an entertaining watch. He was evicted in week 9 after not receiving enough votes. As for the dance reality show, Srivastava and his wife Shikha were eliminated in just a few weeks as they competed not only with great dancers but also with popular TV stars.

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Starring in the Great Indian Laughter Challenge, Raju Srivastava made a cameo appearance when the show made its comeback in 2017. His last television appearance also happened to be on India’s Laughter Champion, a show by the same team.

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