Puneeth Rajkumar, the popular Kannada actor, died of a heart attack on Friday afternoon at the Vikram Hospital in Bengaluru.
The actor was rushed to the hospital at 11.40 am on Friday after he complained of chest pains. He was unresponsive when he was brought to the emergency department and advanced cardiac resuscitation was initiated, as per the hospital authorities.
Son of legendary Indian actor and singer Rajkumar, Puneeth first appeared in films as a toddler, starting with Premada Kanike (1976). He later debuted in a lead role with the 2002 film Appu and is still fondly called Appu by fans and peers. He went on to star in commercially successful films like Mourya (2004), Aakash (2005), Milana (2007), and Jackie (2010), among others.
As news broke of the actor suffering a heart attack, fans thronged Vikram Hospital on Friday afternoon. A huge crowd of fans was spotted outside the hospital premises and Bengaluru police cordoned off roads adjoining the hospital, including Ali Askar Road and Cunningham Road.
Karnataka minister Dr CN Ashwathnarayan confirmed and condoled the demise of the actor. “The sudden death of talented film star Puneet Rajakumar has come as a shock. As a child, as a father to his son and as a brilliant artist, he has made many contributions to the enjoyment of the country. May his soul find peace,” he wrote on Twitter.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj S Bommai, who was among those who rushed to the hospital on Friday, tweeted, “I am deeply shocked that Kannada celebrity Shri Puneeth Rajkumar died of a heart attack. The death of Kannadigas’ favourite actor Appu has caused enormous loss to Kannada and Karnataka. I pray that God will have mercy on his soul and give his fans the power to endure this pain.”
Celebrities from all fields, including the film fraternity from across various Indian industries, cricketers, writers, journalists and politicians paid tribute to the late actor on social media.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman wrote on Twitter, “Condolences on the passing away of Puneeth Rajkumar. A bright star. He had a long promising career ahead. My condolences to his family, his innumerable fans and followers.”
Aside from the Kannada film fraternity, several actors and members of the Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, and Hindi industries too paid their respects to the late actor on social media.
Remembering his “good friend,” Tamil actor and producer Vishal wrote, “I just can’t believe that my good friend Puneeth Rajkumar has passed away and is no more. May his soul rest in peace. My deepest condolences, may his family stay strong [in] these testing times. It’s a big loss for the Karnataka movie industry and a big loss for me as a dear friend.”
Actor and comedian Danish Sait penned a long message in which he said that he was “devastated and heart broken” on losing his “mentor, hero and the finest human being in the world” and recalled several memories they shared.
Actor R Madhavan also shared his grief on the loss of “one of our kindest, nicest and noble souls” and added, “I don’t know what I am feeling. I am feeling so devastated. Brother, you have left us very confused and heartbroken. The heavens are brighter today. I am still hoping this is not true.”
Actor Siddharth wrote, “I cannot process this. Cannot believe you’ve left us Puneeth. Kind, gifted, fearless…so much to give to the world. This is not fair brother. Heartbroken.”
Sharing a picture of herself with Puneeth, actor Parvathy Thiruvothu, who works in Malayalam, Tamil and Kannada cinema, wrote, “It aches beyond words could ever express.“
Actor Prithviraj Sukumaran, who primarily works in the Malayalam industry, took to Twitter and wrote, “This hurts so much! Rest in peace superstar! May the family, friends and the millions of fans have the strength to tide through this sorrow!“
“One of the kindest and warmest actors/gentlemen. Praying to the almighty to give Puneeth Sir’s family, friends and his ocean of fans the strength to cope with this irreplaceable loss,” wrote actor Dalquer Salmaan.
Actor Chiranjeevi Konidela, who primarily works in Telugu cinema, wrote, “Shocking, devastating & heartbreaking! Puneeth Rajkumar 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!”
Hindi actor Vivek Oberoi took to Twitter and wrote, “Shocked and deeply heartbroken to hear this terrible news! We will all miss you dear Appu. You will live in our hearts forever! My condolences and prayers for the family to deal with this deep pain.”
Artist Vilas Nayak mentioned that he had met the late actor on Thursday and expressed his shock over his sudden demise. He wrote, “Met him yesterday, today he is no more! Didn’t know this would be the last meet. Shocked and devastated. He was the nicest person, who would treat everyone with respect and with a smile always. I’ll remember that forever. RIP Puneeth Rajkumar sir.”
Other celebrities who paid tribute to the later actor included actors Nivin Pauly, Rakul Preet Singh, Mahesh Babu, Aadhi, Tovino Thomas, Tamannah Bhatia, Allari Naresh, Arya, Prakash Raj, Sudheer Babu, Radhika Sarathkumar, Ananya Nagalla, Ram Pothineni, filmmakers Raj and DK, Boney Kapoor, Ram Gopal Verma, and composer Thaman, among many others.
Several cricketers such as Virendra Sehwag, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Venkatesh Prasad, and Robin Uthappa also shared their condolences.