On Oct 29, Friday, as the news of Puneeth's emergency admission to hospital broke, it was just too difficult or even just so impossible to imagine something like this. It was like a tragic storm had hit from nowhere, and the feeling was same across anyone who had known of him. Everyone had just the same thought "hope this isn't true", the same prayer "ensure Puneeth is fine", and the same feeling "let this be a bad dream". It took almost an entire day to even come to terms that something like this has happened, and eventually, as Puneeth succumbed, it was a heartbreak moment for the entire state of Karnataka. Puneeth was scheduled to meet the CM of the state, Basavaraj Bommai, on the same day to plan for the Karnataka Rajyotsava celebrations on Nov 1. Puneeth was so full of life.
At the age of 46, as someone who is loved by all, achieved so much, maintains a healthy lifestyle, a fitness enthusiast, a kind hearted person - all in all a gem that everyone aspired to be, met with tragic death. What does one call it? Is it God's will, or we say so simply because we don't know what it is? Puneeth had probably followed every rule of the book, if there's one, that tells us ways and means to live an expanded life. Yet, tragedy stuck. While death is tragic, Puneeth's death at such a young age breaks faith at many levels.
They say, exercise helps you live you fit, healthy and long life
Puneeth was a fitness freak, and his videos on social media as well as performance on the screen are something that we all enjoyed and aspired to do. He was also the brand ambassador for the TCS 10K for quite some time. Numerous debates followed post this event about cardiac arrest, heart attacks, acute heart syndrome and so on. Cardiologists, including Dr Devi Shetty, suggested people going for heavy exercises to go for regular checkups and tests - esp an ECG and CT heart scan periodically, and blood pressure and sugar levels regularly. But does this guarantee anything, no. While it does help in reducing probability of an attack by detecting any abnormalities, it can't rule out.
They say, consuming healthy food and staying away from bad habits is accretive to life
Puneeth is known for following a very healthy diet. His nutrition coach Ryan Fernando also notes how strictly Puneeth adhered to his routine. He also stayed away from unhealthy influences such as alcohol or tobacco. We all know the numerous benefits that come along with healthy food, and how vital such as blood sugar, cholesterol, etc are controlled/ maintained in the permissible limits. Most people who lead a exercise focussed lifestyle also follow a healthy diet. Yet, there are enough instances of people who have succumbed while in the gym or on a run, and so on.
They say, good deeds earn you a great life
Puneeth, although a superstar, was a very humble natured person, with all his acquaintances describing him as a "down to earth" person. This kept him calm and focussed on his efforts, instead of indulging in the politics of work and life. Puneeth contributed large sums of money to run schools, goshala, orphanages, etc. He would hardly publicize his deeds, and only a handful of people knew about his contributions. He is also known to have supported many people to either launch a career in movies/ TV or to further their careers.
They say, blessings of people around you help you live a long life
"Ayushmanbhava" - May you live long, is the blessing that elders bestow us with all the time. The number of such blessings Puneeth would have received cannot even be numbered as Puneeth is an actor loved by every generation of people alive today. Puneeth debuted as a child artist in the 80s, and the previous generation, every one back then (and alive today) loved him in different roles. Most parents (now) would have at least had a thought that their child would be like him. Our generation was furthermore connected with Puneeth after his debut as a lead actor in 2002 and movies further on themes that were very close to our heart - be it on struggle for a career, struggles in a career, devotion towards the state/ country, love for parents, love itself, caste system, relationships, etc. He further connected with people on the TV as the host of the kannada edition of KBC. Above all this, his humble nature and personality not only won him accolades but also a lot of blessings.
Reflections after a tragedy - when the deeds are in years, cultivate people
Many, including me, might have questioned, "what at least is the purpose of this life"? Is long life a goal or is it even a blessing? Or as someone on the TV cited, "In God's terms, Puneeth's life was complete". So, long life essentially doesn't mean anything. This reminds me of one of those most superhit dialogues of the hindi cinema from Anand, "Babu moshai, zindagi badi honi chahiye, lambi nahi". Another anchor on the TV noted about the smile that Puneeth carried from his childhood hasn't changed in 46 years. Most of us, as we go through ups and downs life, our heart starts feeling heavy from the pains, and our smile slowly changes its route - from a baby smile to a show of smile. Our express of sadness, however, remains unchanged. Puneeth carried that virgin smile all life, and those frames cross over our minds - irrespective of whether we saw him on screen or we saw him in person.
If death is an ultimatum, why isn't death ever a goal - a question that intrigued me
I once heard someone speak at ISKCON say, "life is all about achieving mukti with your good deeds". This one stuck me like a lightning, and made me think wonder why on earth are good people living. They must all be dead. But then, what is the definition of "good"? These thoughts often get too philosophical and complicated. Finally, I wonder whether if all these even make sense. The only convincing thing I have ever heard about life and death is that "they are a matter of chance". Many thing in our life happen simply by chance or by luck or the lack of it. We tend to assign a lot of logic, explanation to it, and when not possible, we call it as fate. But I will stick to calling it a chance.
FORGET DEATH, THE MESSAGE IS IN PUNEETH'S LIFE - LIVE A LIFE LIKE PUNEETH RAJKUMAR
Puneeth may not be with us physically today, and might have taken some part of us all with him - that in my view is the greatest achievement of his life. His memories will stay with us forever, and for fans like me, while it an emotionally difficult moment, we will look forward rejoice the memories that we had watching his movies for a long time now. Puneeth's life is full of messages. Despite being the son of the great Dr Rajkumar, he held his ground all the time, and carved a career for him in the industry, all by himself - a career that no one could even doubt to say was a gift from his family. His humble nature, pleasant behaviour, smiling face, fitness routine, supporting people, contributing to social causes, actively participating in Govt efforts - are all messages to us on life. He comes in the category of those heroes who are heroes for doing, and not simply acting to do. What Puneeth has earned over the years is those 20 lakh+ people who came to see him in the last 2-3 days and those crores of people who cried, prayed and felt apart. THIS IS LIFE. After all, we live in times when we hear news of BBMP being called to take bodies to moratorium as some can't even gather 4 people to head to a burial ground.
While his loss is a loss for everyone, one can't deny that it is the family that will be affected the most. I conclude with a hope and prayer that the Lord will help Puneeth's family to come to terms and recover from this loss. Puneeth has not just left behind his family, but a great legacy, which also means huge responsibilities on the family. While his death has broken faith at many levels, I hope and pray at least some of this will be restored by the Lord in these terms. While many questions are and will remain unanswered, we can only - as always when no answers - tell ourselves that this is what God chose.
aa devara hadidu, nammante yendu iradu.. naguvirali, aluvirali, avanateye nadevudu..
This is the Lord's song, nothing happens at our will. Be it smile or a cry, its all his wish.
PS: If anyone from the media is reading, please stop torturing the family with your cameras. It was very shameless, disgusting and abusive in a way for you to follow someone from US airport to Delhi to Bangalore to everywhere else. The kid has lost her father. Have some shame. This wasn't a F1 race.