Usha Uthup remembers the unassuming Puneeth Rajkumar

Singer Usha Uthup remembers the unassuming Puneeth Rajkumar

In a first-person account, Usha Uthup pays a fond tribute to the gentleman-actor Puneeth Rajkumar

The passing away of actor Puneeth Rajkumar leaves behind singer Usha Uthup, who shared a close association with the late actor, with memories priceless, many of which are tied to those times when they shared the same stage and sang their way into countless hearts. 

The musical harmony ended on Friday, all of a sudden.

In a first-person account, Usha Uthup pays a fond tribute to the gentleman-actor Puneeth Rajkumar.

“It’s just the weirdest and eerie feeling for me because the whole of the day before yesterday and yesterday, I’ve been trying to do a new version, re-record ‘Huttidare Kannada Naadali Huttabeku’ which was given to me by Dr Rajkumar to sing. He had really appreciated me singing it during a ‘Ganeshotsav’ when I had come there (Bengaluru). He was also there then. He heard me sing and said I sang it beautifully and ‘you see she will make it more popular than I did’. He gave me his blessings and it was fantastic.

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I just sing it at every show wherever there are South Indians. For the last two days, I’ve been working on this song and yesterday was so uncanny that by one clock they sent me the mixed version from my studio and by then the news was out that Puneeth was no more.

Wherever I went and whichever show I did, if Puneeth was there in the audience, he would always come up on to the stage when I request him. He was such a humble man, he carried such a huge personality and persona on his shoulders with so much dignity and grace and so underplayed. He was so unassuming. And now when I see his face lying like this, on television, it is just terrible.

At any show, at any award function, when I sing his song ‘Bombe Helutatite’, he would always come up and sing it with me, and he would also sing ‘Huttidare Kannada Nadalli’ with me. The last time we did that together was for the ‘River Project' which was organised by Sadhguruji. And it was fantastic when Sadhguru himself got his hand and asked him to come on to the stage and sing and he sang ‘Bombe Helutatite’.  And then we sang ‘Huttidare…’ together. It was an unbelievable experience, really.

Also Read | Thousands flock Bengaluru's Kanteerava Stadium to pay tribute to Puneeth Rajkumar

The thing that really struck me besides his kindness and humility is how thoroughly well-mannered he is. It shows out of every pore of his body. The way he would stand up when there was a lady around… little things like that…

I remember when asked to come and sing, he would touch my feet for blessings. After a show, I told him that ‘your father gave me the song (‘Huttidare…’) and he said the same thing which his father told me, ‘but you made it so much more popular and got the people to sing it with you’. It was truly amazing.

One fantastic thing about him was -- before he smiled, his eyes would smile.  He was a complete gentleman. You could be a great performer, a great artiste but if you don’t have that humaneness in you, it takes away from your art.

Also Read | Puneeth Rajkumar's last rites to be held tomorrow, says CM Basavaraj Bommai

Where was the need for his father to come upon the stage and tell me that I sang the song well? It was his humility. It is the amazing feeling of being able to appreciate, give your blessings to somebody wholeheartedly. Puneeth inherited all that from his father - that gentleness, that humility, the underplaying of your persona, everything.

Puneeth does not belong to Karnataka alone, he belongs to the entire film fraternity in the country. We all mourn his passing -- everywhere. 

I will never be able to forget Puneeth.”

(As told to Anupama Ramakrishnan)

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