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Rajinikanth, Jr NTR at Karnataka Ratna event: ‘Puneeth Rajkumar is God’s child, wonderful human being’

On the occasion of the 67th Karnataka Rajyotsava, the state government organized a grand event in Bengaluru on Tuesday to honor the late film icon Puneeth Rajkumar. At the event, Puneeth was posthumously awarded the Karnataka Ratna, the highest civilian honor awarded by the state of Karnataka. The ceremony saw superstars Rajinikanth and Jr NTR as special guests.

Because of the rain, Rajinikanth broke off his speech first. The actor said he doesn’t like to make people wait in the rain. “Everyone should live together in peace, harmony and happiness without the differences of caste and religion. I seek the blessings of Rajarajeshwari, Allah and Jesus for that,” Rajinikanth said, wishing everyone on the occasion of Karnataka Rajyotsava.

Rajinikanth later went on to compare Puneeth Rajkumar to several exemplary mythological characters, calling him a “God’s child”.

“In Kali Yuga, Appu (Puneeth) is like Markandeya, Prahlada, Nachiketa. He is a child of God. That child has lived among us for some time. He played with us and made us laugh. And again that child went back to God. His aatma is with us,” Rajinikanth concluded his speech promising to return and speak more about Puneeth at a later date.

The microphone then went to Telugu actor Jr NTR, who spoke fluent Kannada to the delight of the audience. The actor noted that he did not attend the event due to his achievements as an actor. But he was there as a friend of Puneeth Rajkumar.

“A person inherits family heritage and surname from his parents. But individuality must be earned. If there is anyone who has won a whole state with just his personality and smile without ego, arrogance and war, it is only Puneeth Rajkumar. He is the superstar of Karnataka. A great son, a great husband, a great father, a great friend, a dancer and a singer. And above all, he was a great person. The richness in his smile cannot be found anywhere else. That is why he is called the king of smiles. That’s why he gets this award. But make no mistake. In my opinion, Puneeth Rajkumar is the definition of Karnataka Ratna,” said Jr. NTR.

Puneeth’s wife Ashwini accepted the honor. Later, Rajinikanth changed his mind and decided to deliver the full speech he had prepared for the occasion. He recalled the first time he saw Puneeth as a young boy during a pilgrimage in Chennai and then Madras. He remembered the boy’s infectious warmth, who got along with everyone.

Rajinikanth also remembered watching Puneeth’s debut film as a lead role, Appu (2002). “After watching the movie with Annavru (Dr Rajkumar), I told him it will be 100 days. And he told me that if so, I should participate in the success event. And I came here and honored Appu during the 100-day celebration. He was the hero of that event, just as he is now. But he is not (physically) with us,” said the “Superstar.”

Rajinikanth said he had undergone surgery and was in intensive care when Puneeth Rajkumar died. And he didn’t hear the tragic news for three days given his health condition at the time. The actor said that even if he was healthy and able to travel at the time, he would not have come down to see Puneeth’s remains. “I would never want to lose that child’s smiling face from my memory,” he added.

Puneeth Rajkumar died of cardiac arrest on October 29, 2021 at the age of 46.

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