Tributes paid to Indian actor Puneeth Rajkumar, who died after suffering a heart attack

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Tributes have been paid to Indian actor Puneeth Rajkumar, who died after suffering a cardiac arrest in Bengaluru.

The actor's manager confirmed the news after Rajkumar died at Vikram Hospital on Friday morning.

He was reportedly rushed to hospital after suffering a heart attack while in the gym but was pronounced dead after arriving unresponsive.

Rajkumar, known as Appu to his fans, had a career that spanned two decades in Kannada cinema - a section of Indian cinema dedicated to the Kannada language.

He appeared in his first film aged six months and got his first leading role in the 2002 film Appu, which was a box office success.

Rajkumar has since appeared in films including Abhi, Aakash, Milana, Vamshi, Raam and Anjani Putra, and has been the host of the Kannada version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? since 2012.

He most recently starred in the 2021 action film Yuvarathnaa and was filming two films, James and Dvita.

The actor is survived by his wife Ashwini and their two daughters.

Fans gathered outside Vikram Hospital after news of his death emerged and, offices and shops in India's tech capital were closed.

Police battalions were brought in to control the crowds in anticipation of violence.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and figures from South Indian cinema paid tribute to the actor on social media.

"A cruel twist of fate has snatched away from us a prolific and talented actor, Puneeth Rajkumar. This was no age to go," Mr Modi said.

Actress Pooja Hegde tweeted: "Cannot believe what I'm hearing Life is so unpredictable. 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."

Actor Siddharth tweeted: "I cannot process this. Cannot believe you've left us Puneeth. Kind, gifted, fearless…so much to give to the world. This is not fair brother. Heartbroken."

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