‘Appu is best remembered for his warmth’

‘There is a forward doing the rounds in Bangalore now, about Appu, that says, ‘Kaanadanthe Mayavaadanu Namma Shiva, Kailasa Serikondanu‘ (Our Shiva disappeared from sight and reached heaven.)’
‘These are the words of a popular Kannada song that Appu sang as a child.’
‘Nobody expected that he would actually live out the words of his song some day.’
M D Riti pays tribute to a dear friend, the actor Puneeth Rajkumar, who passed into the ages suddenly on Friday, October 29, 2021.

Standing next to Appu in the gym was the best motivator ever. Because he could kick so high!

As he was eight years younger, and way fitter, I would try hard to come up to at least 75 per cent of the height of his kick.

These are actually some of my best memories of Appu, as we called Kannada Power Star Puneet Rajkumar fondly.

I first met Appu when he was 12 years old, in a house in my own neighborhood of Sadashivanagar.

I had been commissioned by a national film magazine to interview him as he had won a National Award as a child star for the film Bettada Hoovu.

I walked into his home late morning, and found the television on, with this thin, young boy perfecting Michael Jackson’s steps to its music.

I remember asking him a few questions and he answered with child-like disinterest. He was more interested in dancing than in being interviewed by the media.

At that time, Appu’s screen and real name was Lohith.

I had watched his movies right from my own childhood.

I remember the cute baby in the 1976 thriller Premada Kaanike and the young boy, who plays a crucial role in resolving the mystery in Chalisuva Modagalu.

Appu was the youngest child of his renowned parents, the late Dr Rajakumar and the late Parvathamma. One can only feel grateful that they did not have to live through a day like today, when this 46-year-old star died so suddenly at the height of his career.

At the time that I met Appu again at the Figurine Fitness gym, he was shooting for his debut movie Appu.

He would sometimes stay back to practise a few dance and fight moves in our aerobics studio.

Like his father and brothers, Appu is best remembered for his warmth and friendliness.

He and his brothers follow(ed) their father’s motto: Abhimaniye nanna devaru (Fans are my Gods.)

People would always hang around his house in Sadashivanagar, knowing that whenever their hero came out, he would definitely acknowledge them and probably even hug them or give them a gift.

His first movie Appu came out and became a superhit.

Appu rose in fame and accomplishment in the Kannada movie industry, and ultimately reigned supreme over it.

I moved on too, from journalism into the corporate event management business.

Our ways parted, but my little girl Amala, now a 25-year-old lawyer, still related only to that Appu she knew, on the threshold of his adult career.

As a kindergarten child accompanying me to my aerobics studio every evening, she had made friends on her own with Appu, chatting with him as he used the gym equipment.

Not surprising then that she was the one who made sure we saw her grown up friend’s film as soon as it released.

She even almost broke her foot, trying to lift a heavy hand weight the way Appu did!

 

There is a forward doing the rounds in Bangalore now, about Appu, that says, ‘Kaanadanthe Mayavaadanu Namma Shiva, Kailasa Serikondanu‘ (Our Shiva disappeared from sight and reached heaven.)

These are the words of a popular Kannada song that Appu sang as a child.

Nobody expected that he would actually live out the words of his song some day.

He disappeared from our world today when we least expected him to.

He must surely have reached the feet of his God, and his beloved parents.

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