Karnataka’s highest civilian award the ‘Karnataka Ratna’ was conferred posthumously on late actor Puneeth Rajkumar on Tuesday, on the occasion of the 67th Kannada Rajyotsava (the state formation day).
Puneeth Rajkumar is the 9th recipient of this prestigious honour.
The event on the foresteps of Vidhana Soudha, the seat of the state Legislature and secretariat here, was shortened and held in a hurried manner, due to sudden rains.
Cine actors Rajinikanth and Junior NTR, and Infosys Foundation Chairperson Sudha Murty were guests at the event in which Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai conferred the Karnataka Ratna on Puneeth Rajkumar.
The Karnataka Ratna award consisting a full silver plaque and a 50 gram gold medal, was received by the late actor’s wife Ashwini Puneeth Rajkumar, in the presence of his actor brother Shivarajkumar and other family members.
Several noted personalities from the film and literary world, Ministers, political leaders, legislators, among others were present at the event.
Ahead of the main event, there was musical performance by several noted singers including Vijay Prakash, who sang popular numbers from Puneeth’s movies.
With a large number of people descending at the venue, Ambedkar Road in front of the Vidhana Soudha was jam-packed despite rains, and it was closed for traffic. Commuters were advised to use alternate routes by the traffic police.
Considered the Kannada cinema’s reigning star, Puneeth, youngest of five children of thespian and matinee idol Dr Rajkumar, died of a cardiac arrest on October 29, 2021, at the age of 46.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said, “the entire Karnataka, every village in this state is celebrating and is proud in honouring Puneeth with Karnataka Ratna.” Ashwini thanked the Government of Karnataka, the Chief Minister and fans for the honour; while Shivarajkumar said, their entire family is filled with pride in receiving the highest civilian award of the state, which their father Dr Rajkumar too was conferred with, 30 years ago.
Greeting people of Karnataka on the occasion of Rajyotsava, Rajinikanth speaking in Kannada said, Puneeth was a god’s child, who spent some time with us and has now gone back to his creator.
He also recalled that Puneeth’s late father Rajkumar was conferred the same award at the same venue, and at that time too it had rained.
Also speaking in Kannada, Telugu actor Junior NTR said, Puneeth Rajkumar is a king who ruled millions of hearts, just by his personality and smile, without any ego.
“He (Puneeth) was above all a great human being, and the richness in his smile cannot be seen elsewhere. He is getting the Karnataka Ratna award today, but according to me, Puneeth is the real meaning for Karnataka Ratna in a true sense. I have come here as a proud friend of Puneeth,” he said.
Karnataka Ratna was last awarded to Dr. Virendra Heggade for social service in 2009.
Interestingly, Puneeth’s late father Rajkumar is among the first recipients of Karnataka Ratna award in 1992, along with noted poet Kuvempu.
Other recipients of the award are S Nijalingappa (Politics), CNR Rao (Science), Bhimsen Joshi (Music), Shivakumara Swamiji (Social Service), and Dr J Javaregowda (Education & Literature).
Puneeth, popularly known as ‘Appu’ and ‘power star’, by his fans, made his debut on screen when he was just six-months old and went on to win a national award as a child artiste for the film ‘Bettada Hoovu’. He then re-emerged as a lead actor in 2002 and went on to star in 29 films, delivering some big hits.
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