Making his mark in character roles, Raj Kishore—also credited sometimes as Rajkishore Rana—has more than 120 films to his credit. More prominent among these are his performances in hits such as the Ramesh Sippy directorial Sholay (1975) in which he essayed an effeminate prisoner, Deewaar (1975) in which he played a character named Darpan, Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971) in which he played Sakhi, and Jyoti Swaroop’s Padosan (1968) in which his character was named Lahori.
Born in 1933, he started off as a teenager featuring in films such as Patanga (1949) and Apradhi (1949). He went on to feature in a range of films over the course of his career, from the 1950s up until the 2000s. If he played a fake doctor in Chhote Nawab (1961), he was the café waiter in Ram Aur Shyam (1967). He played a con man in Mastana (1970), a robber in Bhai Bhai (1970), a palm-reader in Mela (1971), a bartender in Rakhwala (1971), a postman in Daku Aur Jawan (1978), the temple priest in Do Premee (1980), a police inspector in Saboot (1980), a professor in Prem Geet (1981), a magician in Gopichand Jasoos (1982), a waiter in Sanam Teri Kasam (1982), a servant in Dard Ka Rishta (1982), a villager in Hukumat (1987), a goon in Zakham (1989), a college professor in Phool Aur Angaar (1993), and a publisher in Mr and Mrs Khiladi (1997).
Among his last appearances onscreen were the Rajkumar Santoshi directorial Lajja (2001), which followed the lives of four women from different places who are victims of male chauvinism and marital abuse. They decide to fight for their rights and dignity against the social norms and injustice. He also featured in Sarhad Paar (2006), directed by Raman Kumar, which told the tale of an Indian soldier who tries to exact revenge on those who had wronged him, and is backed by the emotional support of two women.
Raj Kishore passed away following a heart attack, on 6 April, 2018. He was 85. He was survived by his wife and son. Actor Nupur Alankar, a member of Cine and TV Artistes’ Association (CINTAA), revealed that he had been unwell.
On his passing, filmmaker Pawan Jha wrote that good small-time actors are like the musical instruments in a big orchestra, helping to create and set the ambiance for a scene, and still managing to get a glance. “Rajkishore will remain a significant happy memory of two great ensembles of Hindi Cinema - Sholay and Padosan,” he concluded.