Puneeth Rajkumar (17 March 1975 – 29 October 2021), colloquially known as Appu, was an Indian actor, playback singer, television presenter, and producer who worked primarily in Kannada cinema. He was a lead actor in 29 films; as a child, he appeared in many films. His performances in Vasantha Geetha (1980), Bhagyavantha (1981), Chalisuva Modagalu (1982), Eradu Nakshatragalu (1983), Bhakta Prahaladha, Yarivanu and Bettada Hoovu (1985) were praised. He won the National Film Award for Best Child Artist for his role of Ramu in Bettada Hoovu. He also won Karnataka State Award Best Child artist for Chalisuva Modagalu and Eradu Nakshatragalu. Puneeth's first lead role was in 2002's Appu.
In this Indian name, the name Rajkumar is a patronymic, and the person should be referred to by the given name, Puneeth.
Quick Facts Born, Died ...
He has been dubbed by media and fans as "Powerstar". He appeared as a lead actor in commercially successful 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). He was one of the most famous celebrities and the highest-paid actors in the Kannada cinema. In 2012, he debuted as a television presenter on the game show Kannadada Kotyadhipati, a Kannada version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.
Puneeth (born Lohith) was born in Chennai to the matinee idol Rajkumar and Parvathamma Rajkumar. He was their fifth and youngest child. When Puneeth was six years old, his family moved to Mysore. His father brought him and his sister Poornima to his film sets until he was ten years old. His elder brother, Shiva Rajkumar, is also a professional actor.
Puneeth married Ashwini Revanth from Chikmagalur on 1 December 1999. They met through a common friend, and had two daughters.
On 29 October 2021, Puneeth died in Bangalore after suffering a heart attack at the age of 46. He donated his eyes in accordance with a pledge by his father Rajkumar, that he along with all his family members will donate their eyes after death.
See also: Puneeth Rajkumar filmography and awards and nominations
1976–1989: As child actor
Director V. Somashekar cast Puneeth (then known as Lohith) onscreen when he was six months old in his thriller film Premada Kanike (1976), and Aarathi. This was followed by Vijay's Sanaadi Appanna (1977), based on Krishnamoorthy Puranik's novel of the same name, when Puneeth was one year old. Thayige Thakka Maga (1978) was again directed by V. Somashekar and starred his father. Two years later, directors Dorai-Bhagavan cast him as Shyam in Vasantha Geetha (1980). This was followed by K. S. L. Swamy's mythological drama Bhoomige Banda Bhagavantha (1981, appearing as Lord Krishna) and B. S. Ranga's Bhagyavantha (1982), in which he recorded his first popular song: "Baana Daariyalli Soorya", composed by T. G. Lingappa. That year, he appeared in two hit films (Chalisuva Modagalu and Hosa Belaku) with his father. For the former, Puneeth received his first Karnataka State Film Award for Best Child Actor (Male). In 1983, he appeared in two mythological films: Bhakta Prahlada as the protagonist, Prahlada, and Eradu Nakshatragalu, for which he received his second Karnataka State Film Award for Best Child Actor.
In 1984, Puneeth starred with Rajkumar in the thriller Yarivanu and sang "Kannige Kaanuva", written by Rajan–Nagendra. His biggest break as a child actor came in the 1985 drama Bettada Hoovu, directed by N. Lakshminarayan and based on Shirley L. Arora's novel What Then, Raman? For his portrayal of the innocent Ramu, Puneeth received the award for Best Child Artist at the 33rd National Film Awards. In his early teens, he appeared in Shiva Mecchida Kannappa (1988) as the young Kannappa with his elder brother, Shiva. Puneeth's final child role was in Parashuram (1989), with his father.
2002–2007: Debut as lead and breakthrough
In April 2002, Puneeth made his film debut as a leading man in the masala film, Appu with actress, Rakshita also making her film debut. The musical by Gurukiran, directed by Puri Jagannadh and produced by Parvathamma Rajkumar, in which he played a college boy, was a box office success and critics praised his dancing skills. Puneeth sang "Taliban Alla Alla", with lyrics by Upendra and music by Gurukiran. The film's success spawned remakes in Telugu (Idiot (2002)) and Tamil (Dum (2003)).
Puneeth next appeared in Dinesh Babu's Abhi (2003) as a plucky college boy who is devoted to his mother. In the film, based on a true story and produced by Parvathamma Rajkumar, he starred with debutante Ramya.
Meher Ramesh's Veera Kannadiga was Puneeth's first 2004 release. The film, written by Puri Jagannadh, was simultaneously made in Telugu as Andhrawala with N. T. Rama Rao Jr. in the lead role. Paired with debutante Anitha, it showcased his dancing and stunt skills. Although the film was criticised for its violence and poor plot, it was successful at the box office. Puneeth next starred in S. Narayan's family drama Maurya, a remake of the Telugu Amma Nanna O Tamila Ammayi, starring Ravi Teja and written by Puri Jagannadh. The remake enhanced Puneeth's reputation as an actor in his own right.
He released two films in 2005. Mahesh Babu's Aakash reunited Puneeth with Ramya (from Abhi) and he appeared in Veera Shankar's action film Namma Basava, with Gowri Munjal. He recorded songs in both films. Puneeth's only 2006 release was Ajay, directed by Meher Ramesh and produced by Rockline Venkatesh. In the film, a remake of the 2003 Telugu Okkadu, he played a professional kabaddi player who protects a girl endangered by her uncle (played by Prakash Raj). As a result of these films, Puneeth was called the "Powerstar of Sandalwood".
Puneeth's first release in 2007 was his production Arasu, directed by Mahesh Babu, in which he played an expatriate businessman who renounces his wealth for the woman he loves. For his performance, he received his first Filmfare Best Actor award. Puneeth's other release that year was Prakash's reaffirmation of traditional family values Milana. Actress Parvathy Parvathy (actress) made her debut into Kannada films with this film. Puneeth played the radio jockey Akash. For the film, he received his first Karnataka State Film Award for Best Actor.
2008–2015: Other films
The actor released two films in 2008: D. Rajendra Babu's Bindaas and Prakash's Vamshi. Puneeth's first 2009 release was Raaj - The Showman. Although the film (directed by Prem) was criticised, his performance was praised. His other film Raam, with Priyamani, was a remake of the Telugu hit Ready.
Puneeth returned to the limelight in 2010 with back-to-back hits. The first was Jacob Varghese's political thriller Prithvi, in which he played a bureaucrat in Ballari district who fights corruption. His next release was the action film Jackie, directed by Duniya Soori, which was a commercial success. In 2011, Puneeth co-starred in K. Madesh's Hudugaru, a remake of the Tamil film Nadodigal in which he reprised M. Sasikumar's role in the original. For his performance, he received his second Filmfare and first SIIMA Best Actor awards. In Yogaraj Bhat's travelogue Paramathma, Puneeth's next release, his character searches for love.
He worked with Soori again in 2012 on the action film Anna Bond, produced by Parvathamma Rajkumar. For his performance, he received the Suvarna Best Actor award and was nominated for an IIFA award. Puneeth starred in another Tamil remake Poraali, filmed in Kannada as Yaare Koogadali, by Samuthirakani.
In 2014, Puneeth starred in Jayanth C. Paranjee's romance Ninnindale, with Erica Fernandes. Although his performance as a New York-based adventure enthusiast based in New York was praised by critics, the film was unsuccessful at the box office. Puneeth's next release was K. Madesh's Power***, a remake of the Telugu film Dookudu. Appearing with Trisha for the first time, he played a tough police officer. The film earned a record ₹22 crore (₹220 million) in six days. In 2015, he played himself in B. M. Giriraj's film Mythri, which also starred Mohanlal and Bhavana. Puneeth's other release that year was Pawan Wadeyar's Rana Vikrama, an action film with Adah Sharma and Anjali.
In March 2016, Puneeth worked for M. Saravanan's Chakravyuha and Duniya Soori's Doddmane Hudga. In 2017, he appeared in Santhosh Ananddram 's Raajakumara, which broke all-records in box-office and became the highest-grossing Kannada-language film of all time beating previous record of Mungaru Male, later the record was taken up by the movie K.G.F: Chapter 1. He also had the starring role in A Harsha's Anjani Putra alongside with Rashmika Mandanna, which was remake of Tamil film Poojai. Puneeth Rajkumar has played narrator role in the Anup Bhandari directed Rajaratha. In 2019 his film Natasaarvabhowma was released and also had commercial success.
Puneeth was involved in philanthropy with his mother at the Shakti Dhama ashram in Mysore, and owned the Bengaluru Premier Futsal team.
Main article: Puneeth Rajkumar discography
Puneeth, just like his father, is one of very few actors who have excelled in professional singing too. He sang alone in Appu, and sang a duet on "Jothe Jotheyali" from Vamshi. He sang a fast number in Jackie and sang in his brother Shiva's films Lava Kusha and Mylari. Puneeth Rajkumar has sung a song "Kanna Sanne Indhalene" for Akira movie which was composed by B. Ajaneesh Loknath. He has revealed that his compensation for singing for other than his home-productions goes to charity.
In 2012, Puneeth hosted the first season of Kannadada Kotyadhipati, modelled on the Hindi show Kaun Banega Crorepati, which in turn, was modelled on the British show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. Its first season was successful and a second season followed. The success of second season was cited as a prime reason for Suvarna channel replacing Udaya TV from the top slot for the first time in 19 years. He again hosted the fourth season replacing Ramesh Aravind. He also went to be the host of Colors Kannada's reality show, Family Power. He was producing a serial Netravathi in Udaya TV.
Puneeth was a brand ambassador for Karnataka Milk Federation's Nandini Milk products, LED Bulb Project, 7 Up (PepsiCo), F-Square, Dixcy Scott, Malabar Gold, Gold Winner, Ziox Mobile, Pothy silks, Flipkart and Manappuram, and was a brand ambassador of the Indian Premier League cricket team Royal Challengers Bangalore. Puneeth also owned a team in Premier Futsal, Bengaluru 5.