The sea of fans, thronging to pay last respects to Puneeth Rajkumar on Friday and Saturday, is testimony to his iconic status in the state. Over the last two decades, Puneeth Rajkumar grew from being an actor to an icon, much like his father, Dr Rajkumar. And Puneeth had leveraged the influence he had to endorse many causes, refusing to take any remuneration for them.
The multifaceted actor had sung dozens of songs for his films over the years â€” including the hit tracks â€˜Kaanadante Maayavadanuâ€™ and â€˜Jothe Jotheyaliâ€™ â€” and the fees that he would receive for them would be directed towards the trust that he had started in his fatherâ€™s name, the Dr Rajkumar Trust. Through the trust, donations were often made to several orphanages and old age homes, his friends say
In addition, Puneeth had also agreed to be the brand ambassador for the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) in 2019. After his demise, many recalled how he had, true to his style, readily agreed to be the face of the state-run organisation and refused to take any money for the same. He had reportedly wanted to encourage people to use more public transportation. During his association with the organisation, he had actively endorsed several campaigns of the BMTC, including the Bus Priority Lane, Less Traffic Day and a campaign against harassment of women
Puneeth, who was fondly known as Appu, had also been the brand ambassador for the state-run Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) for over a decade. In a recent interview with The New Indian Express, a former MD of KMF recalled how Puneeth had refused to take any money, even when he spent days shooting for advertisements
He had also been roped by the Election Commission for many years, as early as 2014, where he was seen urging people to come out and exercise their right to vote. He was also the face of the Bengaluru Electricity Supply Company (BESCOM) for many years. Puneeth Rajkumar in 2015 had agreed to be the brand ambassador, again free of cost, for an initiative by the Energy Department intended to replace traditional incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs in households. The actor had also featured in a video urging people to save forests and wildlife
Education was a cause that was close to Puneeth Rajkumar and over decades, he worked in many ways to help those in need with the same. According to reports, he used to consistently sponsor the fees of thousands of students every year, and used to also financially assist many Kannada-medium schools in the state. In 2013, when the state government was finding several seats vacant in the Right to Education (RTE) quota, they roped in Puneeth and Radhika Pandit as brand ambassadors to spread awareness about the legislation through a series of newspaper and TV advertisements. As the brand ambassador for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, he often appealed to parents to send their children to school and worked towards reducing drop-out rates in schools. He also had agreed to be the brand ambassador for the Skill Development Board. Speaking to the Times of India, Higher Education Minister CN Ashwatha Narayana said that Puneeth readily agreed to the proposal.
In times of crisis, Puneeth was often seen not just financially contributing to funds to help those in distress, but also urging his fans to do the same. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck India in 2020, Puneeth actively involved himself in creating awareness about safety. In a video by the Karnataka government, he was seen urging people to support the government in controlling the disease. In addition to this, Puneeth also donated Rs 50 lakh to Chief Ministerâ€™s Relief Fund in March 2020, amid the first wave of COVID-19 infections.
Powerstar @PuneethRajkumar has joined hands in fighting #COVID19 in the state by donating Rs.50 Lakhs to CMRF, Karnataka. I greatly appreciate his noble gesture!â€” Dr. Ashwathnarayan C. N. (@drashwathcn) March 31, 2020
Urge you all to donate online to the CMRF. Let's fight this together! pic.twitter.com/lh2Au7LBy0
Even in his death, Puneeth found a way of enriching someone elseâ€™s life and donated his eyes, like his father had before him.