The Karnataka government announced on Saturday that the cremation of late Kannada actor Puneeth Rajkumar will be held on Sunday morning and the timings will be decided later.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said that the decision has been taken taking into account the large crowds that were still waiting to pay their last respects to the film icon who died at the age of 46 on Friday following a cardiac arrest.
“As per the wishes of people, the funeral will be held tomorrow (Sunday) allowing everyone to have final viewing. I appeal to fans to cooperate with the police. The police are here to help them. They are also Puneeth’s fans,” he said in a statement.
“Puneeth’s daughter is reaching Bengaluru between 5.30pm and 6pm. It will be difficult to hold final rites in the evening. Keeping this fact in mind, it has been decided to hold the funeral in the morning. The decision has been taken after discussion with his elder brothers Shivarajkumar and Raghavendra Rajkumar,” Bommai said.
The mortal remains will be taken in procession to Kanteerava Stadium, located 11.7km away from where Rajkumar will be cremated.
Thousands pay tribute
Thousands of grieving fans continue to flock the city’s Kanteerava Stadium on Saturday to pay their final respects to the Kannada film star.
Considered as Kannada cinema’s reigning star, Rajkumar, the youngest of the five children of thespian and matinee idol Dr Rajkuma, passed away at the age of 4.
Following in the footsteps of his father, the family donated Rajkumar’s eyes as well.
The mortal remains of the actor, wrapped in the Indian flag have been kept at the stadium to enable fans and well-wishers to pay their respects. A steady stream of people from across the state have been pouring into the stadium since last evening.
Several film and political personalities have also paid their respects to the departed soul.
Karnataka Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot accompanied Bommai and other ministers of the state cabinet were among those who paid their respects today.
“The feeling is like losing a son of our house,” a tearful elderly woman fan said.
Our Appu (as Rajkumar is fondly called by fans) might have physically gone, but he will remain with us through his acting and the impact he has left on us because of his good and friendly nature,” a young fan said.
The state government earlier announced Rajkumar’s last rites will be conducted with state honours at Dr Rajkumar Punyabhoomi in Kanteerava studio, next to his father and mother.
The late actor is survived by wife Ashwini Revanth and daughters Drithi and Vanditha.
Stars remember the icon
From a tearful Rana Daggubati paying his respects, to posts of grief and shock shared on social media by Kichcha Sudeepa and Amitabh Bachchan, Rajkumar’s loss has been felt by many from the Indian film fraternities.
“Gone too soon brother!! Extremely shocked and saddened,” posted Daggubati a day earlier before he was spotted at Kanteerava Stadium in tears, paying his last respects, along with Jr NTR and NTR Balakrishna.
Sudeepa posted an emotional message on Twitter, recalling his first meeting with Rajkumar and how the two forged a bond over the years.
Bachchan took to his blog to mourn the Kannada icon. “Puneet Rajkumar, the younger son of the legendary icon of Kanada cinema, Raj Kumar, and a star in his own right, passed away today he was just 46 years, and this has put all of us in great shock. The family of late RajKumar have ever been extremely close (sic),” wrote the Bollywood actor.
“You were the most kindest and the simplest person I’ve met. The world has lost another gem. My heartfelt condolences to your family and friends,” posted actor Sanjay Dutt.
“One of the kindest and warmest Actors/gentlemen. Praying to the almighty to give Puneeth Sirs family, friends and his ocean of fans the strength to cope with this irreplaceable loss,” posted Dulquer Salmaan.
While Kamal Haasan added: “The demise of my dear younger brother Puneeth Rajkumar was most unexpected. We were mutually very fond of each other. My deepest sympathy to his family and his fans in Karnataka.”