Puneeth Rajkumar who was a superstar, actor, producer, television host and a singer passed away today in Bengaluru.
He began his career in Kannada films when he was only six months old. In a career spanning over three decades, he has had several memorable films both as a child actor and as a hero. As a child actor itself, he won several State Film Awards and a National Award. His first film as a hero was Puri Jagganath's, Appu, in 2002, a blockbuster.
Besides his commercial films as a superstar, Puneeth had also been a vocal supporter of the new age Kannada films, made by a fresh crop of filmmakers. Recently, he ventured into production in a major way by making Kavaludaari, directed by Hemanth Rao. He also produced Mayabazaar 2016 and French Biriyani. Speaking about this new wave of Kannada films, he had said, "Off-late, people are trying out experimental scripts. You don't need a big budget to make a great film today with the equipment we have. In fact, you could even make it with a phone. People have a lot of options."
Ahead of the release of his film Yuvarathna, Puneeth opened up about his dreams for the Kannada film industry. He said, "First, I think we should get a great studio in Karnataka. We need a bigger studio where other industries can also shoot and exchange technologies. I hope it happens soon in Karnataka."
Pawan Kumar, the director of films like Lucia and U-Turn, was to make a film with Puneeth titled Dvitva, co-starring Trisha. He had said, "Every time I met him, he used to talk to me about world cinema. He was a big fan of Tom Hanks. I thought that some day we should collaborate. He called me after he saw Lucia. He put up a Youtube video after he saw U-Turn. He is appreciative of the work I've done. In 2019, when I had a draft of Dvitva, I sent it to him just for feedback. He said it would be great to make it. The script and the character suited him."
Most recently his brother Shiva Rajkumar too had opened up about Puneeth's influence on his career. He said that he wasn't very interested in acting until Puneeth had taken the plunge. "A little later, Appu had also begun acting. I thought why don't I try. You could say that he was my inspiration."
Just this morning, the star had tweeted his wishes for the release of his brother's new film Bhajarangi 2. At the time of his passing, Puneeth was working on two films, James and a major science fiction film Dvitva, directed by Pawan Kumar.