Puneet Rajkumar is an Indian film actor who acts in Kannada films and the youngest son of Kannada superstar Dr Rajkumar and the younger brother of leading KFI star Shivaraj Kumar. As a child artist, he appeared in 12 films. He won the National Film Award for Best Child Artist for the film Bettada Hoovu in 1986.
After having appeared in films as a child actor in the 1980s, Puneet rajkumar made his film debut in a leading role in Appu. The film was a huge hit. He has been noted for his performances in films like Aakash (2005), Arasu (2007), Milana (2007), Vamshi (2008), Raam (2009) and Jackie (2010) which are his biggest commercial successes so far.
In 2007, he got a Filmfare award for his performance in Arasu and in 2008 he received a Karnataka State Best Actor Award for his performance in Milana.
Currently he is the highest paid actor in the Kannada Film Industry. He has the most commercially successful movie hit rate, and has had 14 movies in a row to have stayed in theatres for at least 100 days.
Puneet Rajkumar was born as Lohith to Kannada Film Industry thespian Dr Rajkumar and producer Parvathamma Rajkumar. He is their fifth and youngest child.
He started his film career when he was six months old (Premada Kanike). He appeared as a son for his real father in many movies. He left school at a very early age and began to act in movies. He studied with a private teacher at his home. Later he received a Diploma in Computer Science. He then started his career in a mining business before entering the film industry in leading roles. He trained in dancing and fighting for three years before his first film as a hero. Puneet has had training in Kalarippayattu, one of the oldest Indian Martial arts.
His acting career really started with the movie Vasantha Geetha, where he performed well when he was 5 years old. Following this movie he worked in a few more popular movies between 1980 to 1984. In 1985 he worked on Bettada Hoovu and was honored with a National Film Award for Best Child Artist.
As a child artist he appeared in 12 movies: Premada Kanike (6 month-old child), Sanadi Appanna (1 year-old child), Vasantha Geetha, Bhagyavantha, Hosa Belaku, Chalisuva modagalu, Bhaktha prahlaada, Eradu nakshatragalu, Bettada hoovu, Yaarivanu, Shiva Mechchida Kannappa and Parashuram.
After his performances in movies as a child artist, he re-entered the film industry in 2002 as the protagonist of the movie Appu which was remade in Telugu as Idiot and in Tamil as Dum in subsequent years. He received awards for the films Arasu and Milana. For the role he played in Arasu movie, he got a Film Fare Best actor award and received Karnataka State Best Actor award for Milana. The latter successfully ran for 50 days in over 37 centres in Karnataka, and 100 days in 5 centres. It completed a record 1 year run in PVR Cinemas, Bengaluru in September 2008.
In 2009, he starred in Raaj-The Showman which got mixed reviews from critics yet succeeded at the box office. His other movie that year, Raam also succeeded at the box office. In 2010, Prithvi was released and completed 100 days run. The movie got critical appreciation for its bold portrayal of ongoing politics in Karnataka. He won accolades from both critics and audiences for his role in the 2010 blockbuster movie Jackie where he played a character that's rustic and local, yet charming and suave.
Three movies are scheduled for the year 2011, including Hudugaru, which is a multi-starrer. The other 2 include one with director Yograj Bhat titled Paramathma followed by Anna Bond to be directed by Soori.
Apart from acting Puneet has also had a singing career. He has sung since childhood in all his movies as a child artist, when he entered as a male lead he also began singing at least one song in all his films.
It is usual for music directors of his movies to record a song in his voice, as most of his songs have mass appeal. From his first movie Appu, he was using his voice for solo songs mostly. With the song Jothe Jotheyali from the movie Vamshi he sang duets too which became a hit song of 2008. In 2010 he sang another fast-number in his hit movie Jackie after which he rendered voice to his brother Shivrajkumar's film titled "lava kusha" and Mylari.
Before entering the film industry, he was actively involved in a Home Banner Vajreshwari Combines' film distribution job in Karnataka, this still continues. He produced some of the movies made for their brothers Shivaraj Kumar as well as Raghavendra Rajkumar. Two TV serials were also produced by him.
In the movie Akasmika he designed the costumes of Dr Rajkumar.
Puneet has knowledge of SteadiCam which is used in films to shoot scenes like stunts and car chases. Learning about new brand cameras and high definition lenses to movies is probably his favorite hobby.
As per the wishes of his father Dr Rajkumar, he along with his brothers and family have built a hotel in Gandhi Nagar, Bengaluru called Dr.Raj International.
Puneet involves himself in philanthropic works with his mother Parvathamma Rajkumar and carries this out in an Ashram called Shakti Dhama in Mysooru.
He is the brand ambassador for fSquare, Malabar Gold, Manapuram and for a dance show called "DHEE". Also his decision to be brand ambassador for state-owned Karnataka Milk Federation without any remuneration for its product of "Nandini", has been praised by media and fans. Decades ago his father Dr Rajkumar also became the brand ambassador for "Nandini" milk products without taking remuneration, which had helped KMF products to increase sales in the Karnataka State and outside too.
He is now the brand ambassador of Royal Challengers Bangalore, an IPL team. He has replaced Upendra, who was the brand ambassador of the team in 2008 and 2009.
He married Ashwini Revanath at the age of 24 and they have two daughters Drithi and Vandhita.
Puneet is the youngest son of legendary Kannada matinee idol, the late Dr Rajkumar.
Puneet was the first choice for Yogaraj Bhat's Mungaru Male. However, Puneeth could not make it due to date issues.
After watching Duniya, Puneet was mesmerised by Vijay's performance and felicitated him.
Puneet's performance as a young kid in Bettada Hoovu, Vasantha Geetha, Chalisuva ModagaLu and Eradu Nakshatragalu were much appreciated.
Puneet is said to command nearly Rs 1 crore for every film. It is the highest ever by any Kannada actor.
Puneet was cast opposite Hansika Motwani in Bindaas - she earlier acted in the Telugu blockbuster film Deshamudru and the Bollywood film Aap ka Suroor opposite Himesh Reshammiya.
(On Abhi completing 100 days): For any actor it's a dream come true when his film runs for hundred days. After Appu, the expectations were very high. So I believe I have lived up to the expectations of my fans.
I am very selective about the films I do. After Appu, I needed a good subject, which I believed in. So Abhi was the film I wanted to do. The story is inspired by a real life incident. I may do just one or two films a year. I cannot handle more than that. So the long gap was not intentional.
Most of my days in childhood was spent in a studio. In Madras I hardly went to school. I knew the AVM and Vahini studios more than I knew my school. That is why I was forced to quit school. I passed my school and college exams privately.
All my family members have supported me all along. Even when Appu released, they were happy for me. Each and every members of our family are very close to each other. My family is everything to me.
It's hard to choose because each and every film of his is a treat to watch. My personal favourites are Sampattige Sawal and Mayura. Sampattige Sawal is my all time favourite.
(About his brother-actor Shivraj Kumar): I must say his film Om is one of the best films ever made in Kannada cinema. It had a brilliant director Upendra working with Shivanna. I have seen Om for more than thirty times. Janumada Jodi and Nammoora Mandaara Hoove are also his best films. Shivanna has always been a pillar of strength for my family and me. Personally he is a great human being.
I was into granite business initially. As I did not do well there, I joined my family business. I have distributed all kinds of films….some good and some bad. But the experience has taught me a lot of things. It has taught me the tricks of the trade.
I am a film fanatic. I watch all sorts of movies in all languages. In English, my favourites are Sean Connery, Tom Hanks and Russel Crowe. In Kannada, of course my father Dr Rajkumar and my brother Shivaraj Kumar. I love Balakrishna, Mysore Lokesh and Sundar Krishna Urs. I have learnt a lot of stuff from them. In Tamil, I like Rajnikanth. In Telugu, I like Nagarjuna. In Malayalam, Mohanlal is my favourite.
When I saw my daughter for the first time, I felt that I am a father. You can not describe the feeling. One must experience it. Now I feel more responsible than ever before.