It was a misty fall morning. I was stepping out for my morning walk when my phone tirelessly buzzed with messages about the untimely demise of Kannada movie superstar, Puneet Rajkumar. I hoped it was false news, a rumor, a badly played prank. As the news began to sink in, I felt a heaviness in my heart. I knew that this feeling would not go away soon. It was here to stay with me, for a while now.
It is not the first time that I am feeling so many emotions when I hear about a celebrity’s death. I begin to search for personal connections with the celebrity. In the case of Puneeth Rajkumar, he was not just a celebrity, but a celebrity who belonged to my home state, Karnataka. I feel proud of him and his contribution to Kannada cinema. At the same time, I feel a sense of acquaintance and belonging, though I am a stranger to him.
Puneet Rajkumar was a terrific child artist and a talented actor. Instantly, I recollect a scene from his earlier movies Bettada Hoovu, and my mind’s eye gives me a glimpse of his acting prowess in the movie Bhatka Prahalada. There are so many memories of scenes from his movies that flood into my mind, without any warning. The song Ninnindale Ninnindale from his movie Milana, starts playing in a loop in my head. It is one of my all-time favorite Kannada movie songs. I remember a recent discussion with a friend about his wonderful hosting skills in Kannadada Kotyadhipati, a quiz game show. I scroll social media and carefully read how many lives have been impacted by the loss of this one person’s life. I notice the hashtag that people are using along with their posts #gonetoosoon. I nod my head acknowledging the feeling. He was only 46 years old. He is gone too soon, there is certainly no doubt about that.
As the day goes by, I realize that I am grieving his death for longer than I thought I would. I can relate to the scores of people crowding Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru. I feel their pain and their sense of loss because I feel it too.
I begin to wonder why celebrity deaths become so personal. I google it to see what comes up. A bunch of stuff showed up, stating studies and findings of how grieving over celebrity deaths is not unusual. “You are not alone,” Google says.
One quote that stood out to me from my internet findings is: “Feeling grief after a celebrity’s death is common because we form personal attachments to celebrities. Even though we don’t know celebs in person, they can still play important roles in our lives,” says Rachell O’Neill, Ph.D., a clinical counselor in Ohio. “Celebrities connect with us, and even though we didn’t personally know them, their presence is still felt in our lives.”
There is a whole lot of other information about how to cope with these feelings and how we can overcome them. When I am finished reading all of it and digesting most of it, I lead my cursor to find one of Puneeth Rajkumar’s recent pictures. I close my eyes, bring my palms into a namaste, and say a silent prayer for his soul to rest in peace. I pray with all my heart. I pray for strength for his family and friends and for everyone whose loss is more personal than mine.
Surabhi Kaushik is a writer from the heart and finds joy and comfort in her words. You can find all her published work on her blog https://surabhiwritersmind.blogspot.com
Featured Image under CC 4.0.