Puneeth Rajkumar, Kannada Film Star, Dies At 46

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Puneeth Rajkumar, one of the biggest stars of India’s Kannada-language film industry, died of a cardiac arrest in Bengaluru on Friday. He was 46.

Puneeth was born to Rajkumar, the biggest star of Kannada cinema during his lifetime, and producer Parvathamma Rajkumar.

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Under his birth name Lohit, Puneeth appeared in several films as a child actor including “Vasantha Geetha” (1980), “Bhagyavantha” (1981), “Chalisuva Modagalu” (1982) and “Eradu Nakshatragalu” (1983). For “Bettada Hoovu” (1985), now christened Puneeth for the screen, he won India’s national film award for best child actor.

In 2002, Puneeth debuted as a lead actor with “Appu,” and went on to star in several successful films including “Abhi” (2003), “Veera Kannadiga” (2004), “Mourya” (2004), “Aakash” (2005), “Ajay” (2006), “Arasu” (2007), “Milana” (2007), “Vamshi” (2008), “Raam” (2009), “Jackie” (2010), “Hudugaru” (2011), “Raajakumara” (2017) and “Anjani Putra” (2017).

In 2012, he debuted as the host of “Kannadada Kotyadhipati,” the Kannada-language version of the “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” format.

Puneeth was a crowd-pleasing star catering to mainstream audiences. He was also known by the sobriquets “Appu” and “Power Star.”

The actor’s last release was “Yuvarathnaa,” which bowed in April this year. He had several films in production including Pawan Kumar’s “Dvitva,” Nagendra Prasad’s “Lucky Man” and Chethan Kumar’s “James.”

Puneeth’s brother Shiva Rajkumar is also an A-list actor in the Kannada industry. Puneeth is survived by his wife Ashwini and two daughters.

India is in shock over Puneeth’s untimely death. Tributes are pouring in from the political class, from the film industry and from fans.

“A cruel twist of fate has snatched away from us a prolific and talented actor, Puneeth Rajkumar. This was no age to go. The coming generations will remember him fondly for his works and wonderful personality. Condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti,” tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“My heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and fans of Kannada actor Puneeth Rajkumar. Gone too soon,” posted leader of the opposition Rahul Gandhi.

“Apart from the shocking tragedy that @PuneethRajkumar’s sudden death is, it is also a scary and terrifying eye opening truth that any of us can die anytime. So it is best to live life on a fast forward mode , while we are still alive,” wrote prolific filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma.

“Shocking and Heart breaking to know that Puneeth is no more. It is a huge loss for the film fraternity. My deepest condolences to Puneeth’s family and loved ones,” tweeted actor Mammootty.

“The loss of Puneeth Rajkumar has come as a terrible shock. I still find the news hard to believe. It feels as though I have lost a younger brother. My thoughts & prayers go out to his family with whom I share a close bond. I wish them strength & comfort to cope with this loss,” said actor Mohanlal.

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