Saturday, October 30, 2021

RIP Puneeth Rajkumar: Powerstar's NRI fan makes late actor's name heard across the skies

Bengaluru: An ardent Puneeth Rajkumar fan based in the US, devastated after the death of the superstar, went the extra mile to ensure the name of his idol rang through the skies.

An Indigo flight from Hubballi to Bengaluru on Friday night conveyed its condolence over the passing away of the superstar 17,000 feet above the ground, thanks to the flyer M Gautam, a Technical Consultant at a multinational bank in California.

Flight no. 6E 1761 had taken off from Hubballi at 8.35 pm on Friday and it was around 9 pm when Captain Deepti made this announcement: "We are offering our condolence and tribute to the family and friends of Mr Puneeth Rajkumar, Kannada film cine actor. Unfortunately, he passed away today in the afternoon due to cardiac arrest."

The gesture by the airline crew won a round of applause from most of the 75 passengers on board. Gautam frequents India as he also works as an Adviser to State Horticulture Minister N Munirathna.  He has fond memories of the actor who stayed in his residence in San Jose for a night when Appu came to attend the World Conference of the Association of Kannada Kootas (AKKA) there in 2014.

Munirathna and Gautam were attending an event in Haveri district on Friday afternoon when they heard the tragic news. "The Minister was keen we rush to Bengaluru and we luckily got the last two seats available on last night’s Indigo flight. During my trip, I kept thinking about the superstar's untimely demise and was feeling very low. It suddenly it struck me that I could ask the airlines to make a mention of him on board," he said.

Gautam approached an airhostess and passed on his request. "The flight had crew comprising North Indians mostly. To explain the stature of Puneeth Rajkumar, I explained to them that he was as popular in

Sandalwood as Tom Cruise in Hollywood, Hrithik Roshan or Shah Rukh Khan in Bollywood," he said.

Though reluctant to do so initially, the crew obliged after much persuasion. NRI Gautam told The New Indian Express, "I felt absolutely delighted. This is my token of tribute to my dearest friend Puneet Rajkumar in the air at 17,000 feet. No airlines did this yesterday or today."

30/10/21 S Lalitha/New Indian Express

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