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Thursday, September 29, 2022

Om Shanti – Puneeth Rajkumar

Bharat lost Puneeth Rajkumar, a philanthropist, movie superstar and singer to a heart seizure on October 29. A talented actor and singer, he is the son of the legendary Kannada actor, Dr. Rajkumar who passed away in 2006. Puneeth’s fans cherished the late actor as “one of the kindest and noblest” in the film industry.

Unlike other actors who donate to charities for the sake of fame and publicity, Puneeth never spoke publicly or promoted his extensive charity work. It is believed that his deep faith in the Hindu religion made him follow his father’s footsteps into philanthropy at a very young age.

Puneeth was also someone who proudly wore his Hindu identity on his sleeve. He is said to have single-handedly shut down the ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ version in Kannada when the organizers started pushing their anti-Hindu agenda through the program. Puneeth was the anchor of that show. 

PM Narendra Modi tweeted that his Puneeth left us too soon. At only 46, it really was no age to go. The PM added that he will be remembered for both his work and his wonderful personality. He also shared a picture of him standing alongside Puneeth and his wife. 

Personalities from different walks of life condoled his unfortunate and sudden demise. His residence turned into a sea of mourners who came to catch the last glimpse of this humble, saintly personality. As a mark of respect, shops and traders shuttered their establishments across Karnataka on October 30. 

His cremation saw him being accorded full state honors and a 21 gun salute. Police said that an estimated 10 lakh people turned up at Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru to pay their last respects. Emotions ran high and many broke down in tears. His fans who were not allowed into the funeral site gathered outside and in unison chanted ‘Appu Amara’ (Appu is immortal).

Survived by his wife Ashwini Revanth and two daughters Dhriti and Vanditha, Puneeth’s last rites were performed after one of his daughters who live abroad reached Bengaluru on October 31. Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai was present and handed over the National Flag wrapped around Puneeth’s mortal remains to his wife Ashwini and his daughters. Puneeth’s elder brother’s son conducted the final rituals as per the family’s traditions after readying his uncle on his final journey and cremating him.

Born on March 17th, 1975, Puneeth acted in over 29 movies in a lead role. A fitness enthusiast, he was working out in the gym when he complained of chest pain and was rushed to a hospital in Bengaluru. He did not survive what doctors confirmed as a massive heart attack. 

Bengaluru-based Puneeth cared for and aided the homeless, girl students and the underprivileged. All his income from singing was for charity. His commitment to noble causes became apparent when his eyes were transplanted to 2 persons after his death. Earlier both his parents too had done the same. 

As part of his philanthropic efforts, Puneeth maintained 19 gaushalas, 16 old age homes and 26 orphanages. He adopted 1800 homeless children and contributed lavishly to Kannada medium schools. 

His mother Parvathamma Rajkumar died in 2017. He along with his mother supported thousands of girl students through their charitable institution based out of Mysore called the Shakthidhama ashram. Those 1800 odd kids would sorely miss Puneeth since he was everything for them.

Shakthidhama helps the underprivileged girls by providing them education to the 10th standard and counsels them on higher education based on their skills and aptitude, for free. The organization also shelters victims of rape, human trafficking, forced prostitution and domestic violence. As part of boosting their confidence, those rescued are then provided free life skills training. The organization run by Dr. Rajkumar’s family has helped more than 4000 women in Karnataka.

Just last year during the peak of the coronavirus catastrophe, Puneeth donated INR 50 lakhs to the Karnataka CM relief fund. As part of the awareness program initiated by PM Narendra Modi, he asked his fans and followers to stay safe and asked them to come forward with their monetary contributions. In coordination with the Bengaluru police, he came out with videos on Covid-appropriate protocols and helped Kannada actors who had lost their livelihoods due to the pandemic. 

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