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Director KM Chaitanya on Puneeth Rajkumar: He was a true legend- Cinema express

Director KM Chaitanya on Puneeth Rajkumar: He was a true legend

The director recounts his 14-year-long relationship with Puneeth 

Published: 29th October 2021
Director KM Chaitanya on Puneeth Rajkumar: He was a true legend

“Similar to everyone else’s feelings, I feel like I am still wrapping my head around the news of Puneeth Rajkumar’s passing. I was in Tumkur earlier today for a shoot when I found out about it. I am headed back to the city to give my condolences.

Puneeth was a humble man. When my first feature film, Aa Dinagalu, was released in 2007, he called to tell me he liked it. It was an unlikely thing for a superstar to do. Normally, after a movie has been made, we schedule a premiere for the industry folks to see and share opinions. But with Puneeth, he saw the film, got my number from somewhere, and called to congratulate and tell me his thoughts on the film. It was so wonderful of him to do that. This was 14 years ago.

Though I wouldn’t say we were close friends, we have always been in touch with each other. In fact, I even sat with him during script development for one of his films. He felt I could give him valuable inputs for the script.

One of the last times I spoke to him was when Sanchari Vijay passed away in June. I had texted him to tell him about Vijay’s passing and he immediately called to ask for more details. Since this incident happened during the lockdown, he wanted to know how he could help, if he should visit the hospital or not, and who else was there to pass on for help. I remember putting him in touch with another director friend of mine who was with Vijay’s family at the time.

It’s this humbling behaviour of his that made him so loveable. He was a true gentleman and a caring soul. Every year, they would have lunch at his home for his father, Rajkumar’s, birth anniversary. I have been there and interacted with him there as well.

His humility translated to his work life too. I spoke to him quite recently to tell him I was happy to see him work in Pawan Kumar’s Dvitva. It was not a regular commercial film and Puneeth knew that too, but he still chose to work in the film because he wanted to push boundaries and grow with every project.

He was aware of his stardom and what it could bring to the audience. Through his production house, he brought new talents and added his name behind new experiments. Dvitva was one such project. He was just getting started on trying new things and this happened.

I loved some of his films too. I liked his Paramathma (2011) even though it wasn’t such a great one for him. I also quite enjoyed his work in Milana (2007).

With every film he made, I felt that his acting was getting better. He looked better too. He was one of the fittest in the industry, especially for someone his age. We were all in awe of his physique.

Puneeth Rajkumar comes from a legacy, and his body of work has been amazing. His fans were very proud to call him a superstar because he wore that tag well. He leaves behind a vacuum that no one can fill. He was a true legend.”

(As told to Anila Kurian)

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