Kannada director Pradeep Raj, who is best known for his 2011 film Kiraathaka starring KGF fame Yash, died due to COVID-19 related issues in a private hospital in Pondicherry in the early hours of Thursday morning. He was 46. According to reports, Pradeep breathed his last at around 3 a.m. and had been a diabetic for around 15 years before contracting the novel coronavirus a few days ago. He is survived by his wife and two children. 

Pradeep Raj made heads in the Kannada film industry in his directorial debut, Kiraathaka, which had KGF star Yash in the lead role and is incidentally the actor's first major box office success. The film released in 2011 also earned the distinction of being the 3000th film to be released in Kannada cinema and is an official remake of the smash hit Tamil blockbuster, Kalavani, with actress Oviya reprising her role from the original. Pradeep has since also worked with several other top names in Kannada among which includes the 'Golden Star' Ganesh-starrer Mr. 420 and Rajani Kantha, which had Duniya Vijay in the lead role. The hit director also teamed up with Kiccha Sudeep in 2018 for the film Kicchu, which was also the last film of Kannada actor-cricketer Dhruv Sharma, who died due to multiple organ failure in 2017. The film was an adaption of Pradeep's novel Hotti Uriva Kichchinalli, which told the story of deforestation in the Malenadu region of Karnataka, with one man rising to the occasion to fight for its protection.