Shivanna's touching tribute to Puneeth Rajkumar

Shivanna's touching tribute to Puneeth Rajkumar

Shivarajkumar and Puneeth.

Puneeth Rajkumar died nearly a month ago, on a day his elder brother Shivarajkumar’s film ‘Bajarangi 2’ hit the screens. In an Instagram post, Puneeth had praised Shivarajkumar for pulling off a tough stunt at the age of 58. “Even I wouldn’t have been able to do it that well,” he said, in response to a fan question.

Shivarajkumar and Puneeth were 13 years apart, and they shared a close relationship. “I have fond memories of holding him in my arms as a baby. I would take him for long walks and we would play together. Neighbours and friends in Chennai, where we spent our childhood, would joke about it, saying a baby was carrying a baby,” Shivarajkumar told Showtime.

For Shivanna, as Puneeth called him, the death makes no sense. “I simply refuse to hang his picture on the wall because I still believe that he is somewhere among us,” he says.

Early childhood 

Shivarajkumar recollects the first time Puneeth, fondly called Appu, made his film debut in ‘Premada Kanike’,  a 1976 Kannada film directed by V Somashekar. It had Rajkumar, Aarathi and Jayamala in prominent roles. “He was just an infant. We were thrilled to see him on screen and instantly knew he was cut out for great things,” he says.

Puneeth was the youngest among five siblings, and his parents Rajkumar and Parvathamma doted on him. They would take him to shooting locations and Puneeth literally grew up on the sets.

“His role in ‘Bhagyavantha’ was a huge hit. He was four years old and to watch him so confidently walk into a studio and sing ‘Baana daariyalli’ was unbelievable. With no prior training, he perfectly pronounced complicated Kannada words. We believed, back then, that Appu was endowed with a natural gift for music and language,” says Shivarajkumar.

Puneeth was born in Chennai. As a child, he would mingle with the workers in the house and sometimes even eat with them. “There was a restaurant called Hotel Hollywood near our house. Appu would go there with the watchman. He refused to take a separate seat. He treated everybody as an equal,” he says.

More like friends

Puneeth was already a good dancer and gymnast when Shivarajkumar got into films. He had trained in martial arts, gymnastics and in stick fighting as a child.

“Appu was only 11 years old when Geetha and I were married. He was 16 when our children began calling him uncle. He felt shy because he was a child himself. He was always a friend to his nieces and nephews,” says Shivarajkumar.

Meeting Ashwini

It was Shivarajkumar who told their father Rajkumar that Puneeth wanted to marry his long-time girlfriend Ashwini.

“I first met Ashwini at Cauvery theatre during the screening of my film ‘AK 47’ in 1999. When I told my mother about them, she asked me to tell our father. I did so. Appaji took it sportingly. It was beautiful to see how they believed in me and believed in Puneeth and Ashwini. Puneeth was introduced as a hero one year after he married Ashwini,” says Shivarajkumar, who was also the one who also gave Puneeth the title of ‘Power Star.’

Good cook

After a hectic week at work, Puneeth would call on Shivarajkumar and invite him over to his house. “We never spoke about work. We would talk about where to party next and make travel plans. He was a great cook. His mutton fry and chicken curry were to die for,” says Shivarajkumar. 

Love of fashion and tech

One of Puneeth’s rare indulgences was buying himself shades and t-shirts. “Also, his craze for cars and gadgets is well-known. He gifted me a BMW cycle and inspired me to start cycling. He followed the latest technology in automobiles, films and gadgets. You name it and he knew it,” says Shivarajkumar.

His favourite things

Shades and t-shirts

Gadgets and gizmos

Cars and cycles

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