'Is 46 an age to die?' Fans outside Vikram hospital stunned by Puneeth's death

Fans waited for hours outside Vikram hospital where Puneeth was admitted, hoping against hope that he would make a recovery.
Puneeth Rajkumar fans crying
Puneeth Rajkumar fans crying
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Cries of "Appu! Appu!" filled the air as fans thronged Vikram hospital in Vasanth Nagar, Bengaluru. On Friday, October 29, news began trickling in from noon that something was very wrong. Their beloved 'Power Star' Puneeth Rajkumar had been hospitalised. Hoping against hope, fans made their way to Vikram hospital to find out for themselves if the news they were hearing was true.

Since all the roads leading to the hospital were blocked, several fans —  most of them young — went by foot to see if they could catch a glimpse of Puneeth. They waited for close to four hours for an official update from the hospital, in a collective show of love and solidarity. Unfortunately, the man whose warm smile had captured their hearts for decades, did not make it. Puneeth Rajkumar had passed away at 46, leaving his family, friends, fans and colleagues heartbroken.

Known to be a youth icon, Puneeth's untimely demise has come as a shock to Karnataka as well as his well-wishers beyond the state. When his body was brought out of the hospital, fans stood by quietly, stunned by what they were seeing.

An inconsolable fan displayed the tattoos on his arm — Dr Raj, Shivanna, Ranganna and Puneeth.

Another fan, an auto driver, was in tears, unable to put into words what the ‘Power Star’ means to him. "I have been a fan of the family since his father's time. I'm not just sad, his death feels like my death. I'm not even able to express my grief. I have been Puneeth's fan for the last 20-30 years. I have his picture on my auto. If Puneeth Rajkumar is no more, it feels like I am no more. If I had died in his place I would have been okay, that's how hurt I am," he said.

For some fans, the news just did not sink in. "Some people are saying he's dead. Others are saying arrangements are being made at Kanteerava. Is 46 an age to die? I don't even step out of my home much but I'm such a big fan of Puneeth Rajkumar and his family. Someone should have done something...[to save him]. If only someone would come and tell us that he's okay and that he's recovering...we don't need anything else," said one such fan, breaking down.

Puneeth was also popular among women, and many of the fans on the roads leading to Vikram Hospital were female.

"He's a very, very good man. I've seen him since a young age. He made a name for himself in the film industry. We have only love and faith for him. We are so upset. I haven't even eaten. We just pray to God that he's okay. More than a celebrity he was a good man. That's why we love him," said a woman who was waiting like scores of others outside Vikram Hospital.

It's clear that fans loved Puneeth not only because he was Dr Rajkumar's son, it's also because he carved out his own identity in Sandalwood.

"I have been a fan ever since I can remember. We came as soon as we heard the rumours. We can't say he was only Dr Rajkumar's son. He had his own identity. His acting, dance. It's not a contest between industries but he took the Kannada industry to the next level. We don't need any other reason to be his fans. All his good deeds...he helped out people in need. That's why we are fans. We just want some positive news. No matter how long it takes... tomorrow or how many ever days it takes, we are prepared to wait right here. But we want some positive news," said another fan.

Puneeth Rajkumar, who made his first big screen appearance at just six months, passed away at 46. As the entire state is plunged into mourning, his memories will live on in celluloid, watched and rewatched by his legion of fans. 

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