Puneeth Rajkumar death: Narendra Modi leads tributes to Indian actor

The beloved film star from southern India has died aged 46

Award-winning south Indian actor Puneeth Rajkumar has died at the age of 46.

The beloved star, who has almost 50 film credits to his name, died of a heart attack in Bengaluru on Friday, his manager confirmed.

He was reportedly taken to the doctor after complaining of intense fatigue after a gym session and was then rushed to the hospital, where he died.

His body is being placed at Sree Kanteerava Stadium, where long queues of fans have formed to pay their respects to the Kannada actor.

There has been an outpouring of grief, and offices and shops across Bengaluru reportedly closed on Friday, and police brought in, as there were fears of violence following the actor's sudden death.

The actor's older brother, Raghavendra Rajkumar, urged everyone to remain peaceful, and said his family were "in a state of shock".

Last rites are being performed on Saturday upon the return of Rajkumar's daughter, Vanditha, from the US, according to The Times of India.

Rajkumar, perhaps best known for his award-winning work in Raajakumara and Rana Vikrama, has 48 film credits on IMDb, and played the lead in 29. He appeared in a number of titles when he was a child, earning himself a National Film Award for Best Child Artist early in his career.

Well known for his dancing skills and as a playback singer, Rajkumar appeared in his first film, Bettada Hoovu, with his father, when he was aged 10.

'A cruel twist of fate'

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi led tributes to the star on social media. "A cruel twist of fate has snatched away from us a prolific and talented actor," the politician wrote on Twitter.

"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."

Indian actress Parvathy Thiruvothu wrote: "It aches beyond words could ever express," next to a broken heart emoji and a photo of her with Rajkumar.

Telugu actor Mahesh Babu said he was "shocked and deeply saddened" by the news. "One of the most humble people I've met and interacted with. Heartfelt condolences to his family and loves ones."

Pawan Kalyan, the actor, director, screenwriter, stunt coordinator, philanthropist and politician, also posted his condolences. "The sudden & unfortunate demise of ‘Sri Puneeth Rajkumar deeply saddens me," he wrote on Twitter. "His performance in his first film Bettada Hoovu as a child actor deeply etched in my mind. Ever since I always admired him."

Actor Dulquer Salmaan wrote: "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."

Former cricketer Venkatesh Prasad also shared a photo of Rajkumar, with this note: "Extremely sad to know of the passing away of our dear #PuneethRajkumar. My heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and fans. I request his fans to maintain calm and pray for his Sadgati in this excruciating time for the family."

Updated: October 30th 2021, 6:34 AM