Sandalwood superstar Puneeth Rajkumar passes away at 46

Sandalwood superstar Puneeth Rajkumar passes away at 46

The actor was admitted to Vikram Hospital in Bengaluru after reportedly suffering a mild heart attack

Sandalwood superstar Puneeth Rajkumar. Credit: Special Arrangement

Kannada cinema’s reigning star and celebrity television host Puneeth Rajkumar, known for films such as “Appu”, "Veera Kannadiga" and “Maurya", died here on Friday following a massive heart attack, the hospital said.

He was 46. Puneeth, who was known to be a fitness enthusiast, was rushed to Vikram Hospital after he complained of chest pain following a two-hour workout in the gym, doctors treating him said. He died shortly after.

He is survived by his wife Ashwini Revanth and two daughters Dhriti and Vanditha.

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Restless crowds of stunned fans milled around the hospital complex as news came in of the sudden death of the actor, the son of much-loved matinee idol Rajkumar who fast outgrew his father’s shadow to carve a place all his own in the Kannada showbiz industry.

Puneeth's body will be kept at the Kanteerava Stadium to enable the public to pay their last respects, state minister R Ashoka told reporters. He said Puneeth's last rites will be performed with full state honours and the family will decide when it will happen.

According to the hospital, the actor was brought to the hospital with a family doctor diagnosing that he had had a heart attack. "At the time of arrival to the emergency, the patient was non-responsive and was in cardiac asystole. Hence, immediate advanced cardiac life support measures were initiated for resuscitation..."

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"The panel of medical experts extended all efforts to save him. He was declared dead at 2.30 pm on 29.10.2021," read the statement by Dr Ranganath Nayak, a cardiologist at Vikram Hospital.

Condolences at the death of the actor, who began his career as a child artist appearing in movies such as "Thayige Thakka Maga" and "Bhagyavantha", poured in from political leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, colleagues in the southern film industry as well as those in Bollywood -- their messages echoing his legions of fans grieving the hero who had gone too soon.

Sharing a picture with the actor and his family, the prime minister said, "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." Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai was among the first to condole the death.

For latest updates on Puneeth Rajkumar, click here

“A huge personal loss and one that's difficult to come to terms with. Praying the almighty gives the Rajkumar family and fans the strength to bear this loss." he tweeted,” the chief minister said.

Bommai said the actor was supposed to meet him on Friday to plan Kannada Rajyotsava on November 1.

"But the destiny had something else in store. Instead of meeting me, he went somewhere else. This is extremely shocking," the CM told reporters. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also paid her condolences. “A bright star. He had a long promising career ahead. My condolences to his family, his innumerable fans and followers," she posted on Twitter.

Also Read | Bengaluru bans alcohol sale till October 31 after Puneeth Rajkumar's demise 

Former chief ministers Siddaramaiah, BS Yediyurappa and S M Krishna also condoled the actor's death. After a stint as a child actor, Puneeth made his debut as a leading man in the 2002 movie "Appu" and followed it up with a string of successful movies, including "Abhi", "Maurya", "Ajay" and "Arasu".

Puneeth was also a popular celebrity host on television. He hosted the first two seasons of "Kannada Kotyadhipati", the Kannada version of Amitabh Bachchan's "Kaun Banega Crorepati". He also emceed Colors Kannada's reality show "Family Power".

Colleagues such as Chiranjeevi, Mahesh Babu, Prakash Raj as well as Abhishek Bachchan and Sonu Sood posted their condolences on Twitter and other social platforms. "Ahh Noooo .. Gone too soon my dear Appu. I’m shattered .. Heartbroken .. not fair #BlackFriday #PuneethRajkumar," Prakash Raj said on Twitter.

Also Read | PM Modi pays tributes to Kannada actor Puneeth Rajkumar

"Shocking, devastating & heartbreaking! #PuneethRajkumar gone too soon. Rest in Peace! My deepest sympathies and tearful condolences to the family. A huge loss to the Kannada / Indian film fraternity as a whole. Strength to all to cope with this tragic loss!" added Chiranjeevi. Actor Parvathy Thiruvothu shared a throwback photograph with Puneeth from one of their films.

"It aches beyond words could ever express. Puneeth Broken heart #PuneethRajkumar" she captioned the picture. Actor-producer Prithviraj Sukumaran said he was heartbroken. "This hurts so much! Rest in peace superstar! May the family, friends and millions of fans have the strength to tide through this sorrow! #PuneethRajkumar Folded hands."

Mahesh Babu said Puneeth's sudden demise has left him "shocked and deeply saddened" and recalled Puneeth as being one of the most humble people he had met.

"Heartbreaking news! Gone too soon. #PuneethRajkumar My condolences to his family and his fans. You will be missed," said Abhishek Bachchan.

Singer Shreya Ghoshal said the actor's death has left her devastated. "This can’t be true! Devastated to hear this. #PuneethRajkumar. A humble superstar, so young, at the pinnacle of his life, simply left the world. My deepest heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and fans. Om Shanti," she wrote.

Actor Sonu Sood condoled the death of the Kannada power star and said, "Heartbroken 💔Will always miss you my brother. #PuneethRajkumar."

More details awaited.

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