Family, fans and film folks gather to pay tribute to Puneeth Rajkumar
It's almost a year since Puneeth Rajkumar passed away and his family, friends and film industry paid tribute to the late actor at a massive event in Bengaluru
It is not often that tens of thousands of people gather at a place to pay tribute to a person who passed away almost a year ago. And, it was not just ordinary people but stars and superstars from across film industries in India, who had flocked together at the Palace Grounds venue in Bengaluru on October 21 to honour the man loved by millions of people across Karnataka – Kannada film industry’s Power Star, the late Puneeth Rajkumar.
‘Puneeth Parva’, one of the series of events that was organised to mark the one-year death anniversary of Puneeth Rajkumar, was a grand success. It also turned out to be one of the best pre-release events for the docudrama Gandhada Gudi, Puneeth’s last film.
Over 25 lakh people had visited Kanteerva stadium to pay their last respects to Puneeth Rajkumar last year and thousands visit his memorial even today. Five-star hotels organised a two-day fest called ‘Flavours of Gandhada Gudi’ on October 22-23 by curating menus and cuisines that the departed actor loved to eat. Some hotels across Karnataka are even organising a month-long fest to celebrate the actor’s first death anniversary.
Banners, flexes, and photos of the superstar have popped up in every nook and corner of the state. The actor seems to be fondly remembered by his fans and friends even after a year of his death.
Fame and fortune never went to his head
Appu, as his fans fondly called him, had everything under the sun. Besides being the son of the legendary actor Rajkumar, he had been a National Award-winning child artiste, a superstar, TV host, philanthropist, and family man, and had possessed a great zeal for life. However, he never let anything get to his head. Like superstar Kamal Hassan said, “Puneeth never let his father’s fame or even his fame get on his shoulder”.
The actor followed in his father’s footsteps and considered his fans as his god. He would patiently speak to the hundreds and sometimes thousands of fans who would gather outside his house to get a glimpse of their favourite star. He would patiently pose for selfies with fans from India or abroad.
The superstar was known to be a foodie and would surprise people by stopping at a street-side eatery to grab a quick bite. He had stayed at some of the luxurious hotels in the world but had no qualms sitting on the ground amidst media glare.
Rajkumar’s family is the first family of the Kannada film industry and millions of people in the state feel connected with ‘Doddamane’. Appu has always been like the charming prince for the people of Karnataka. The actor made a fantastic debut as a hero in a film titled Appu back in 2002 and he had ruled the roost for nearly two decades.
What made Appu stand out from the crowd was his humility. Despite his star status, the actor would call up and wish his fellow actors if he had heard good reports about their films. He would recognise people by their names or faces even if he had met them just a couple of times. Most people in the film industry were in awe of him because the superstar would often walk up to actors and appreciate their work.
If he knew someone was lost in a crowd, he would be the first person to realise it and start talking to them to make them feel comfortable. Film journalists unanimously agree that Puneeth would reply to their messages or return their calls even if it was late in the evening.
It is no secret that Puneeths’ production house PRK Productions offered a great opportunity for budding talents. Several actors and directors owe their success to the superstar and Puneeth felt that it was his responsibility to take the industry forward along with others.
Power to the needy
Puneeth Rajkumar’s philanthropic work came to light much after his untimely demise. The actor funded the education of hundreds of young girls and provided shelter to needy women at their family’s rehabilitation centre in Mysuru. Puneeth was a good singer in addition to being a great dancer and would often sing songs for other actors. It is a known fact in the film industry that the superstar’s remuneration for singing in another actor’s film would directly go to charity work.
What surprised many was that the superstar had paid the school and medical fees for several people without seeking publicity. People started expressing their gratitude in the media only after his death and that is when even his own family members got to know about the actor’s philanthropic work.
The actor was 46 years old when he passed away on October 29, 2021. He will be posthumously conferred with the prestigious ‘Karnataka Ratna’, the state’s highest civilian award, on November 1, which also happens to be the ‘Kannada Rajyotsava’ day.