Puneeth Rajkumar, who died at the age of 46 on Friday, was an energy dynamo and one of South India’s most profitable stars.
It’s tragic and ironic that he was in the gym when he suffered a heart attack – he was a role model for fitness enthusiasts, and his workouts were legendary. In many hits, such as “Appu” (2002), “Vamshi” (2008) and “Jackie” (2010), he has fully utilized his athletic skills. He was proud to do his own stunts and had trained in martial arts like Kalaripayattu so he could do realistic actions. Obviously, acting was his first love, and he danced well too.
Coming from the first family of Kannada cinema, Puneeth, then called Lohith, made his debut as a child actor when he was only six months old. He was noticed in the film Rajkumar-Saritha Chalisuva Modagalu (1982), in which he also sang a folk number. In ‘Bhakta Prahlada’ (1983), he played the main role, opposite Rajkumar, who plays the demonic Hiranyakashipu. Puneeth won the National Award for Best Child Artist for her role in “Bettada Hoovu” (1985).
The youngest of Rajkumar and Parvathamma’s five children, Puneeth came back as a full hero with ‘Appu’ (2002). He had a spectacular box office performance and ushered in the second round of a career that spanned nearly two decades and at least a dozen blockbuster hits. His “Rajakumara” (2017) was the highest grossing Kannada film before being overtaken by “KGF” (2018).
Few child actors retain their charm as they grow up and try their luck as adult actors, but Puneeth is one of those who have moved on to youthful roles with chutzpah. Perhaps the only other child actor in India who became a sensation in his youth is Kamal Haasan.
Puneeth chose action and romance and stayed away from gangster films, such as “Om” (1995) and “Jogi” (2004), which helped his older brother Shivarajkumar score at the box office. . In fact, Puneeth continued the legacy of his iconic father Rajkumar, making films aimed at family audiences and conforming to the idea of ââmainstream cinema of healthy entertainment.
Her sentimental love story ‘Milana’ (2007) arose in the wake of the runaway romantic comedy ‘Mungaru Male’ (2006), and featured bhavageete-style lyrics and singing melodies, staying away from the crowd. more aggressive music which then gained momentum. .
In his 29 films as heroes, Puneeth has played many roles – a civil servant fighting the mining mafia (‘Prithvi’, 2010), NRI giving up wealth for the woman he loves (‘Arasu’, 2007) and a student leader taking the private education racket (‘Yuvarathnaa’) – but one genre he stayed away from was the mythological.
This is a genre of opera and rhetoric in which Rajkumar excelled, thanks to his training in classical music and corporate theater conventions. Puneeth represented a later generation of English-educated heroes with little training in the traditional arts. Her singing was therefore more relaxed Gaana than formal raga. In his on-screen image, he was to Kannada what Mahesh Babu is to Telugu, and Vijay is to Tamil.
A lover of world cinema, Puneeth was keenly aware of what producers and fans expected of him and did not stray from his image as a benefactor. However, he was looking to support more adventurous cinema with his production house PRK Productions and had just started working with young maverick director Pawan Kumar.
Puneeth took on a role similar to that of Amitabh Bachchan and hosted the TV show “Kannadada Kotyadhipathi”. The gentleman presenter was not just a character: his colleagues loved his friendly and easygoing manners, and his fans were often amazed at how approachable and down-to-earth he could be.
Puneeth’s untimely departure comes as a big shock not only to his family and friends, but also to Kannada’s film industry, which is only now recovering from the ravages of the pandemic.