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|June 21, 2001||
Karnataka's first family launches another son!
M D Riti
His debut has been the most awaited event in the Kannada film industry for at least two years now.
Puneet Rajakumar, the youngest of megastar Rajakumar’s five children, will be launched as an adult hero by his own family very soon.
"Nothing has been finalised yet," said Puneet to this correspondent. "The script and all other details are still being worked out."
However, family sources confirmed that the script for Puneet’s first film is now in the final stages of being worked out. The family has already held a couple of rounds of discussion with director Nagathihalli Chandrashekhar in the privacy of their family home in Sadashivanagar. Chandrashekhar has more or less been chosen as the director of the film.
Puneet, who recently went to Singapore to shop for his film, said that the heroine was not finalised yet.
However, the film is definitely going to be a mainstream film, with a lot of action and song and dance routines.
Puneet is known to be an accomplished dancer: the very first time this correspondent met him almost two decades ago, at his sister’s house in Bangalore, when he was a 12-year-old schoolboy, he was busy mimicking the movements of a Michael Jackson video.
The film is bound to have a big budget. (In Kannada cinema, a budget of Rs 10 or 20 million is big.)
The choice of Chandrashekhar as director leads to speculation that it may have some schedules in the US, as both this director’s recent films America America and Nanna Preethiya Hudugi were shot almost completely in the US. He introduced two stars fairly successfully to the Kannada screen in the latter film, which probably led to his being chosen by the Rajakumar film.
Puneet himself is now in excellent physical form. Six months ago, just after his father was released, he had put on a lot of weight, as he was not maintaining his regular exercise routines. Puneet works out regularly at Santosh’s Figurine Fitness Gym in Bangalore, jogs every morning and even does aerobic sessions.
He is, of course, no stranger to the silver screen. Appu, as he is better known, has been facing the arc lights since he was barely a year old, mostly in films starring his father. As he entered adolescence, he stopped acting.
By then, however, he had won a National Award for best child star, in a Kannada film made by an outside producer. Puneet’s performance as a small village boy in Bettada Hoovu (Hill Flower) is still remembered by the Eighties' generation.
Ever since, Puneet has been involved with his family’s other film businesses of distribution, movie and television serial production. Even now, he is involved with the production of four Kannada serials being produced by his family banner.
Puneet was to have been launched last August, by his own admission. His first film was to be very different from his many movies as a child star.
But everything changed when the infamous Veerappan kidnapped Rajakumar last July. Although he was released last November, it took until now for some semblance of normalcy to return to the family and for Puneet’s long-postponed first film to take flight.
Puneet, in his late twenties, has been married to sweetheart Ashwini for one-and-a-half years now.
His elder brother Shivaraj is one of the Kannada film industry’s reigning heroes. His second elder brother Raghavendra, who dropped out of medical college to try his hand at films, never made it as a hero. His eldest sister Lakshmi is married to leading distributor, producer and equipment hirer S A Govindaraj, while his second older sister Poornima is married to popular Kannada film star Ramkumar.
This youngest scion of the most powerful film family of Karnataka is the only one of his siblings to study and grow up in Bangalore. The others lived in Madras, while Rajakumar himself shuttled up and down from Karnataka.
Shivaraj even went to an acting college there. The family moved to Bangalore less than two decades ago. At the time, Puneet went by the name of Lohit.
As everyone knows, debut films can either make or break a young star aspirant’s career. Shivaraj’s first film Anand was a great hit and he never looked back. Raghavendra’s debut film was a flop. He was re-launched by his family in Nanjundi Kalyana, and managed to sustain a mediocre career. Both brothers introduced fresh heroines in their first films, so it is likely that Puneet will too.
Puneet’s contemporary from those days, another child star Master Manjunath, never made it into films as an adult. He is now a content manager with a software company’s website.
Then again, Master Manjunath did not belong to Karnataka’s first film family.
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