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After a super-duper hit



ON THE SETS Puneet Rajkumar is busy shooting for his untitled film Photo: Courtesy chitraloka.com

Netkallappa Circle has worn a festive look for the past couple of weeks. A huge clock tower sprung up overnight. Colourful crafts shops and thronging crowds. No, this is not an annual fair, but the sets of Puneet Raj Kumar's yet untitled venture.

It's just after the lunch break and it's sweltering. The heat in no way keeps the crowds at bay. The loudspeakers are blaring a bit of a song repeatedly as colourfully clad dancers rehearse. You go in search of the hero and find him trying to cool off behind a huge hoarding. Puneet is preening and he has every reason to. His film Akash has been declared a huge hit.

The dogged make-up man is vigorously painting his face with sweat forming streaks already. What makes things better is Puneet's cool attitude. He doesn't complain about the lack of a portable fan. "I was planning to buy an air-conditioned van but well-wishers are dissuading me. They say heroes who bought one have not prospered and even got rid of them. The problem is that all my other films were shot during winter." A queue of fans is waiting to be photographed with their hero and Puneet obliges. Everybody wants to speak to Appu as he's affectionately called, right from kids to an inebriated man, wanting his favourite hero to buy him a drink!

This film is being produced and directed by Veera Shanker who's just had a lukewarm success in Telugu, Gudumba Shanker, starring Pawan Kalyan. "I've always wanted to direct a Kannada film because I'm a fan of Dr. Raj. I chose to produce too because this film needs a big budget and I didn't want somebody denying me the things I want," says the director. " It is a love story with all the necessary commercial ingredients," admits the director. From the director's brief narration of the story, you can sense that Appu has another hit on his hands. "We will shoot about 20 per cent of the film on these sets. We've already shot a fight sequence and some scenes," says the director.

"No, I don't play a student. I own a gymnasium in this film," says Puneet. His co-star is the pretty Gowri who's fresh from the success of her Telugu film Bunny.

A shot is called and Puneet leaves trailed by fans and cops trying to shoo them a way. The choreographer teaches Puneet some movements but it's not before the fifth take that the shot is okayed.

The junior artistes scatter as the lights and camera are shifted for another shot. Puneet is sharing a joke with Mahesh, the director of Akash as he gets a call. He speaks in hushed tones and summons a senior police officer. Suddenly, the circle is cleared of all the fans. A posse of policemen arrives. Matinee idol Rajkumar is going to visit his son on the sets. "Why don't you meet appaji?" suggests Puneet, but you politely refuse and melt into the crowd of bystanders where you belong.

S. SHIVA KUMAR

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