Bengaluru: Popular Sandalwood actor Puneeth Rajkumar passed away on Friday following a massive heart attack. He was 46. An avid bodybuilder and fitness freak, he reportedly collapsed while working out at his gym at 11.40 am and was rushed to the hospital. According to a statement issued by Vikram Hospital, Puneeth was non-responsive when brought in and was in cardiac asystole, which indicated signs of cardiac arrest.
The youngest son of the legendary Rajkumar, he was popularly known as ‘Power Star’ and was one of the biggest stars of Sandalwood with a huge fan following. He is survived by his wife Ashwini and their two daughters.
His body has been kept at Kanteerava Stadium for people to pay homage and the cremation will be with state honours on Saturday, Manjunatha Prasad, the Principal Secretary to Karnataka Chief Minister,announced. The police have made arrangements and tight security is in place in Bengaluru. All liquor shops have been closed as a precautionary measure.
Chief Minister of Karnataka Basavaraj Bommai, Bengaluru City Police Commissioner Kamal Pant and several other dignitaries visited the hospital. The Karnataka government has alerted Bengaluru district commissioners, DCPs and SPs to tighten the security in their jurisdictions across the state.
As the news of Puneeth’s demise spread, highly emotional fans rushed to Vikram Hospital where the police had a tough time controlling them. Puneeth started his career as a child actor and delivered several hit films, including Appu (2002), Abhi (2003), Veera Kannadiga (2004), Mourya (2004), Aakash (2005), Ajay (2006), Arasu (2007), Milana (2007), Vamshi (2008), Raam (2009), Jackie (2010), Hudugaru (2011), Raajakumara (2017) and Anjani Putra (2017).
Before his demise, he was working on a psychological thriller drama titled Dvita, directed by Pawan Kumar, who rose to fame earlier with the film U-Turn. Puneeth's older brother Shiva Rajkumar is also a big star in the Kannada film industry. Puneeth won the National Award for Best Child Artist for Bettada Hoovu in 1985. He won four State Awards, the last one for Jackie in 2010-11.
He was known for spending his birthdays with fans and went to great lengths to fulfil their wishes. In 2012, he published Dr Rajkumar, the Person Behind the Personality, co-authored with Prakruthi N Banwasi. The book is a biography of Dr Rajkumar, told through his son.
Puneeth made his television debut in 2012 with Kannadada Kotyadhipati, the Kannada version of Kaun Banega Crorepati. He also sang several songs for Kannada films, and reportedly donated the entire money from singing to charity.
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