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July 31, 2000
Kannada film industry downs shutters in grief
M D Riti in Bangalore
"I fully hope my father will emerge from the jungle soon, leading Veerappan out by the hand," says Rajakumar's second son, Raghavendra. "My father is such an incandescent personality, his innate goodness might well help the brigand to reform and come out of the jungle."
The Kannada film industry has reacted to the kidnapping with deep distress and shock. Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce president K C N Chandrashekhar said, "We have shut down film production, distribution and exhibition until Dr Rajakumar is released. In the meantime, the entire film industry will be performing pujas in all the temples in Bangalore, and we invite all film-goers to participate in them and pray for his early release."
Outside the KFCC premises there was utter chaos this morning, with unruly crowds breaking down uncontrollably. Inside the chamber offices, several film-stars and film personalities had gathered to discuss the incident.
Kannada superstar Ravichandran, who is Tamil by origin, was there looking particularly haggard. Others present were well-known film director Hamsalekha, who is scoring the music for Rajakumar's film Bhakta Ambareesha which is under production. Film-star politician Jayanthi, actors Saikumar, Doddanna and several smaller film-stars were also there.
"Rajnikanth is from Karnataka and a great devotee of Dr Rajakumar," said Hamsalekha. "We fully expect that he will involve himself in the rescue attempts in a big way and help return him to us safely."
Despite the magnitude of the tragedy, there is a lot of expectancy in the air, and the film industry seems confident that Veerappan will return the superstar unhurt, especially given the information from the latter's wife Parvathamma about the respect with which the brigand treated Rajakumar when he abducted the latter.
Film-stars keep coming out of the chamber building to try and soothe agitated fans gathered outside.
"Do you want Rajakumar back or not?" yelled Jayanthi, holding a mike into the crowd. 'Yes, yes' the crowd chanted in response. "Then please try and remain calm as that is what he would have liked you to do."
Another film-star turned politician, Minister Vasanth Kumar Bangarappa, son of former chief minister S Bangarappa, whose sister Geetha is married to Rajakumar's star-son Shivraj, also says the Karnataka government is very hopeful of bringing the veteran star in one piece. Parvathamma herself seemed fairly calm in the few hours she spent in Bangalore in the morning before leaving for Madras with Chief Minister S M Krishna, to meet with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi.
"As this regrettable incident occurred in Tamil Nadu, we are sure its police will make every effort to find Rajakumar at the earliest," says Hamsalekha. "We are sure they are sorry this happened in TN."
"Had my father been here now I am sure he would have asked you to react with dignity and peace to this sad event," says Raghavendra. "If you wish to display your solidarity with or your faith in his ideals, please do not resort to violence or anger in these troubled times. We know the Karnataka government and the film industry will do their best and we are confident that our father will emerge unscathed."
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