Indian actor Puneeth Rajkumar, most famous for his roles in romantic comedies such as Appu and Raajakumara, died at age 46 on Friday after suffering from cardiac arrest.
According to a statement from Vikram Hospital in the city of Bangalore, he was brought to the medical facility “with a diagnosis of heart attack” and an “ECG [electrocardiogram] done by a family doctor.”
“At the time of arrival to the emergency, the patient was unresponsive and was in cardiac asystole”–commonly referred to as a “flatline” activity of the heart. “In spite of prolonged advanced and aggressive measures, the patient continued to be non-responsive,” the statement continued. “The panel of medical experts extended all efforts to save him.”
Puneeth Rajkumar was also a beloved child actor and appeared in many films alongside his father, Dr. Rajkumar. He often even played his father’s son in the films, before he was old enough to have leading roles himself.
The actor was unique for starring in Kannada-language films, a Dravidian spoken dialect in Southern India, northwest of Tamil. Though Hindi-language Bollywood films are the primary bread-and-butter of India’s film industry, the country also produces films in over 21 other languages, according to CBS News.
His romantic comedies as the character “Appu” were very popular, eventually landing him action dramas such as 2017’s Raajakumara, which made approximately $10 million US dollars at the box office. Rajkumar was also known for signing in his movies and has performed in over 30 films.
Thousands of fans surrounded Vikram Hospital after news of his admittance, in shock over what happened to the actor nicknamed “Powerstar” in the prime of his career. His body is reportedly being brought to Kanteerava Stadium in India, where fans can remember him and pay tribute.
A bereft fan told local reporters on the scene outside the hospital that, “It is very painful to have lost him. He was a gem in the Kannada film industry and he is unforgettable.”
“A cruel twist of fate has snatched away from us a prolific and talented actor, Puneeth Rajkumar,” said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “This was no age to go. The coming generations will remember him fondly for his works and wonderful personality. Condolences to his family and admirers.”
Modi signed off his statement with “Om Shanti,” a message of peace and invocation to God.
According to The Times of India, the actor had expressed experiencing chest pains in the morning while working out at the gym, and was later brought to the hospital.
“Cannot believe what I’m hearing 😔 Life is so unpredictable,” said Indian film star Pooja Hedge. “Such a big loss for Indian Cinema. Sending out loads of love and light to his family and loved ones in these difficult times. R.I.P Puneeth Rajkumar. 💔😞”
Puneeth Rajkumar also hosted three seasons of Kannadada Kotyadhipati, an Indian language quiz show and the country’s official adaptation of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Basavaraj Bommai, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, a state in Southeast India, called Puneeth’s death a “huge personal loss.”
“Shocked and deeply saddened as Karnataka’s most loved superstar #PuneetRajkumar is no longer with us,” the Chief Minister tweeted. “A huge personal loss and one that’s difficult to come to terms with. Praying the almighty gives the Rajkumar family and fans the strength to bear this loss.”
“It feels as though I have lost a younger brother,” said Malaysian film star Mohanlal. “My thoughts & prayers go out to his family with whom I share a close bond.”
Chiranjeevi, another well-known Indian actor, called Puneeth Rajkumar’s passing a “huge loss” to the Kannada film industry.
Puneeth Rakumar is survived by his wife, Ashwini Revanth, their two children, and his older brother, fellow-actor Shiva Rajkumar.