BENGALURU: “Paramaathmanige saavilla” (There’s no death to the Supreme Lord)! That is what came out strongly on Thursday as emotional fans of late Kannada actor Puneeth Rajkumar — fondly called Appu — celebrated the day for two reasons.
The darling of the crowds, a man with a golden heart, would have celebrated his 47th birthday on March 17, a day which also saw the release of his last film, ‘James’, an all-out success, thanks to emotional fans thronging theatres across the state and overseas. It was also his first birthday after his death on October 29, 2021.
‘James’ has set records not just all over Karnataka, but worldwide too. The film was released in 286 single screens, and 180 multiplexes across Karnataka.Bengaluru alone had over 1,000 shows, and a total of over 2,000 shows across Karnataka. Worldwide, ‘James’, released in five languages, recorded over 4,000 shows.
The film bagged first day collection of over Rs 10 crore in Karnataka alone; and made an approximate collection of Rs 30 crore worldwide. With houseful shows, and tickets booked till this weekend, the team is expecting to join the Rs 100 crore club within a week.
Puneeth ‘raj’ on fans, streets become dance floors
The celebrations began at the stroke of midnight as March 16 gave way to Puneeth Rajkumar’s birthday. His brother Raghavendra Rajkumar, and his sons Vinay Rajkumar, Yuvarajkumar, Sriimurali celebrated with fans, and later, at 6 am on Thursday, the entire Rajkumar family watched ‘James’ at Veeresh theatre. The theatre saw a floating population of at least 20,000 fans who came only to see the 30 cutouts of Appu put up there.
On the opening day, several theatres across Karnataka kept seats, numbered 17, vacant in all the rows in honour of the late star as March 17 is his birthday. Mysuru saw a whopping 110-plus shows across the district, setting a new record. Several fans erected a 70-ft cutout of Puneeth Rajkumar in front of DRC Cinemas at BM Habitat Mall and hired a helicopter to shower flower petals on it.
Similarly, Puneeth fans got together and installed a statue in a temple-like structure at Paduvarahalli in Mysuru earlier and milk abhishekham was performed. Interstingly, an entire extended family of 150 members booked an entire hall at PVR Cinemas to watch the movie in Mysuru. Puneeth’s wife Ashwini Revanath paid a visit to her husband’s memorial at Kanteerava Studios in Nandini Layout, which witnessed over 30,000 people paying their tributes to their beloved star through the day.
Puneeth’s eldest brother and ‘Hattrick Hero’, Shivarajkumar, arrived at Gayathri theatre on 100-Feet Road to watch the film along with Puneeth’s fans. Charity, blood donation drives, installation of statues, fireworks, showering of flowers, distribution of food, rallies was the order of the day across Karnataka. Lakhs of fans, young and old, commemorated the 47th birth anniversary of the Power Star in their own ways. Fans also organised eye donation camps in honour.
Others organised food distribution camps which are expected to continue till the weekend. Meanwhile, hospitals like Fortis used the opportunity to spread awareness on heart conditions and organised free cardiac check-ups for people. The entire Sandalwood fraternity and politicians took to Twitter to express their sentiments on the actor’s birthday and on his last movie.
The scenes were no less in parts of Chamarajanagar district, Hassan, Hubbali, Kolar as several fans celebrated his birth anniversary, and paid tributes. Fans have an emotional connect with ‘James’. The movie, a firsttime collaboration between Puneeth Rajkumar and director Chethan Kumar, is an action entertainer backed by producer Kishore Pathikonda.
It is about an Army officer, Santhosh Kumar, played by Puneeth Rajkumar, who decides to quit his job to run a security agency. What is his purpose? What is the intention behind the title ‘James’? The answers to these questions make up the second half of the film, which ends up becoming a revenge drama. In the US, a host of events have been lined up in California, New York, New Jersey area, Los Angeles and other places.
Award ceremony after talks with Puneeth family: CM
Bengaluru: As the state celebrated the birth anniversary of Power Star Puneeth Rajkumar, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the late actor’s life, conduct in public and helping nature towards the poor are “exemplary and inspiring.’’ The CM said, “We should remember his huge achievements and good work at such a young age.
We would have been celebrating his 47th birthday today if he were alive. His life is an inspiration to us, though we all are in grief after losing him.” He also wished success for the Puneet starrer ‘James’, which hit the screens on Thursday.
“The date to present the ‘Karnataka Ratna’ award to Puneeth posthumously will be decided in consultation with his family members. A committee will be formed to organise the award presentation function in a befitting manner,” he said. Opposition leader Siddaramaiah reiterated that the government should give Puneeth a Padma Shri.