Published: 25th November 2021
So long, Appu: Five lessons that we can all learn from Puneeth Rajkumar's life
A month after he passed on, The Coach gives us a glimpse into the human being that we all witnessed on the big screen. He recalls how Puneeth Rajkumar was a compassionate and a humble person
Lovingly known as Appu, Puneeth Rajkumar was a household name, not just because he was an actor but because he managed to carve a niche for himself by proving to be a compassionate humanitarian. His philanthropic work is such that it will put even the most active politicians to shame. Moreover, what is important to remember is that all his social work was silent, at least I only found out about the good that he did after his sad demise. We've been taught since childhood that empty vessels make more noise but every once in a while, there come those few rare people like Appu who prove the contrary.
I'm sure you all agree that our behaviour is fluid, it changes according to our circumstances. We all behave differently in a social setting, public setting and with family. The only ones who really know us without 'filters' are our closest friends. Hence, I decided to hear it straight from the horse's mouth — my two wonderful god brothers, Chethan Gowda and Roshan Bachan, who were very close to Appu. Roshan knew him for about a decade and Chethan, in fact, knew him for nearly 25 years. They helped me understand Appu's true essence.
Here are the 5 things I feel that we can all learn from our beloved Appu
1. Humility isn't just a reflection of greatness, it is what enables us to truly win hearts. Everyone that I spoke to described Appu as a man who was very polite and humble. Many told me that he remembered their faces and identified them by their names even though they had only met once. Chethan told me that Appu looked beyond someone's social stature. He spoke to a security guard with the same love and respect that he offered his counterparts — in spite of being such an accomplished actor and coming from a highly respected family.
Success was never alien to him. Appu had always been at the height of success while his feet were always touching the ground. He had been acting on the big screen ever since he was a child, imagine the weight that he could've thrown around if he wanted to?
2. Tags, social status, affluence... Nothing mattered to him. The only thing that mattered was being a good human. Even though Roshan is an athlete of international stature, he comes from a family which is well known in the entertainment industry. He recalls meeting Appu at a marathon event where the two discussed fitness but it was only when they met next that Appu found out that Roshan is his good friend's son. The one thing that Roshan kept on repeating was how Appu's attitude didn't change one bit before or after that incident. That mental balance and treating everyone the same shows that someone is a compassionate human being.
3. Taking interest in another person's interest is a key to beautiful relationships. Chethan is an avid cyclist, Roshan is a runner, my mother is a doctor and another friend of mine likes to customise cars. All of them had one thing to say, Appu knew how to connect with someone's passion. He often led conversations about other people's interests instead of solely talking about his. He made people feel important and instilled a sense of belonging. A star making us feel equal to him rather than inferior is nothing short of a dream come true, isn't it?
4. Money wasn't everything! While it is easy to say that he had everything and hence money didn't matter to him, how many actors have chosen to do government ads that don't pay as well over private commercial ventures? Chethan recalls Appu accepting offers for a good cause that didn't even pay. He often told people with a project for a good cause to not stress over payments and instead pay him whatever they could. Roshan even reminisced how Appu decided to promote one marathon event for good health, free of cost!
5. Discipline, time management and prioritising relationships — in short, establishing balance! Chethan told me that Appu was extremely disciplined. Both he and Roshan explained that Appu was great at time management, he had once met them at different places on the same day but never ran late. That's when I understood how his strict discipline enabled Appu to manage time like a rockstar. In spite of everything, he still made time for all the people in his life — family, close friends and fans.
Don't die! "Look after your parents and family." I asked Chethan what Appu would have said to those fans who wish to die, failing to cope with his death. Chethan instinctively told me, "Appu would've been heartbroken. He always told people to look after their parents and family well. He would tell people, 'Please don't die, who will look after your family then?'
We all want to be famous but really what matters are the things that we are known for. It doesn't matter if we're celebrities or if we never become one. Do your best to be your best.