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Monday, April 19, 2021

On Puneeth Rajkumar’s 46th birthday, we look at the star’s hits and misses

As Puneeth Rajkumar truns a year older, we look at his choices that made him a force to reckon with in the Kannada film industry.

Written by Manoj Kumar R | Bengaluru |
Updated: March 17, 2021 11:26:55 am
Natasaarvabhowma stars Puneeth RajkumarPuneeth Rajkumar is waiting for the release of Yuvarathnaa.

Kannada movie star Puneeth Rajkumar is celebrating his 46th birthday today. He was just six-month-old when he made his first appearance on the big screen with director V Somashekhar’s 1976 thriller Premada Kanike, starring his father and acting legend Dr Rajkumar. And in no time he became a successful child actor surpassing the popularity of his older siblings, Shivarajkumar and Raghavendra Rajkumar.

His career was thriving as a child artist as he added multiple Karnataka State Film Awards and a National Award to his resume. By the time he was 14, he had about 14 films to his credit. After sharing the screen space with his father again as a young actor in Parashuram (1989), he took a long break from acting. He was away from the spotlight for so long that he was almost forgotten. His elder brother Shivarajkumar emerged victorious with back-to-back hits and cemented his position as a top hero of Kannada cinema.

It was 2002. And suddenly, Puneeth exploded on the scene again with blockbuster Appu. The film, which was written and directed by Puri Jagannadh, marked Puneeth’s return to acting with the same unbridled energy that made him a child prodigy. Only now, he looked stronger, his gymnastics skills were awe-inspiring and his dancing skills were on another level. The film about a fearless youngster, who takes on a top cop for the sake of love, was a smash hit. It was sensational as the film inspired remakes in other languages. It was a perfect relaunch for his acting career.

Puneeth Rajkumar's Anjaniputra set for a big release Puneeth Rajkumar is celebrating his 46th birthday today.

Puneeth’s choices later followed a well-established course with family entertainers like Abhi, Aakash, Milana. It won’t be wrong to say that he played very safe. But, he also displayed moderate interest in doing different kinds of movies. However, the results were not always encouraging when he tried to do things differently. Take, for example, the 2009 movie Raaj the Showman. It is still unclear why this film, which was written and directed by Prem, would not click. It had chartbuster songs, interesting fight sequences, an energetic performance by Puneeth. So was his 2010 film, Prithvi. Written and directed by Jacob Varghese, the film revolved around an IAS officer’s fight against corruption. Again, the film had a clear theme, engaging performances and represented stark reality of what happens to people who try to uphold the truth. The tone and the texture of the movie were far removed from the typical, loud action potboilers of Kannada cinema.

The exciting phase of Puneeth’s career began following his association with filmmaker Soori. Jackie starred Puneeth as a small-time hustler, who ends up helping cops taking down a human trafficking cartel. His character was very grounded like Prithvi and Raaj. But, unlike those films, Jackie became a huge hit in 2010. Soori elevated this film to the status of essential viewing with his bold, clear and honest storytelling. And Puneeth’s deep understanding of his character made Jackie a memorable entertainer.

Puneeth’s other experiments, however, did not fetch the same success. Director Yogaraj Bhat’s Paramathma and Soori’s Anna Bond did not perform well commercially. But, you can’t say the same about Yaare Koogadali. It was a different film but it was different in a bad way. It was a poor remake of actor-filmmaker Samuthirakani’s Tamil film Poraali.

In 2014, he acted in director K Madesh’s Power. The film was a remake of Telugu hit Dookudu starring Mahesh Babu. The film primarily banked on Puneeth’s dancing skills and his agility with stunt sequences. There was never a dull moment and it emerged successful at the box office. However, it is baffling as to why Puneeth would do Chakravyuha and Anjani Putra. These were the remakes of Tamil films, Ivan Veramathiri and Poojai, which were deeply flawed and panned by critics and fans alike. The rationale behind remaking disappointing movies that have no scope for improvement is a bit perplexing.

Puneeth again tasted the success in a big way with Raajakumara, which was a tear-jerker. The 2017 melodrama, which was written and directed by Santhosh Ananddram, became one of the highest-grossing movies of that year. Then, he pushed his luck hard with Natasaarvabhowma, a disappointing film, which was nothing but a two-hour-long ode to Puneeth’s acting career.

Now all eyes are on Yuvarathnaa, which is the second collaboration between Puneeth and Santhosh. The film is getting ready to hit the screens on April 1.

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