If there was one television serial in the 80s that changed the face of soaps in the country it has to be Mahabharat. And one character that I remember vividly for his portrayal of the iconic Duryodhana was actor Puneet Issar. For someone who breathed life into the role, Issar’s powerful screen persona is memorable even to date.
And now the actor and director is bringing the magnum opus Mahabharat on stage through leading theatre production company Felicity Theatre. The focus on the play is on the selfless and unconditional friendship and loyalty between Duryodhana and Karan and the play is presented in a poetic format, with rhythmic rendering of dialogues and tells us a story about good prevailing over evil. Apart from Puneet Issar, the cast includes Rahul bhuchar, Meghna Malik, Gufi Paintal, Surendra Pal, Aarti Nagpal, Karan Sharma, Harleen Kaur, Sidhanth Issar, Danish Akhtar, Yashodhan Rana and Diksha Raina. Incidentally Issar used to do theatre during his college days but shifted to films. “In 2017 I started writing “Mahabharat An Epic Tale” and it took me two years to write it and prepare the production with Rahul Bhuchar of Felicity theatre, and we launched it on the 17th of Nov 2018 and it was a super success. The audience have been asking me to do something on Duryodhana and that is when I decided why not make the Mahabharat from Duryodhana’s perspective.”
The play speaks about the human side of Duryodhana’s rock solid bond of friendship with Karan as well as his relationship with the elders of the Kuru clan and Draupadi. “This play will be an eye opener and allow audiences to view this epic tale with a fresh new perspective. It was a big challenge to choose other actors for the same, as I needed very fit guys to don the role of warriors who needed to be very good actors as well, so we went through lots of auditions and I personally trained each one of them for their respective roles, as I have been a trained actor and Speech and Diction professor at the Actors Studio.” The dialogues of this play are in poetic form as Issar wanted it to be different and raise the level of the writing. I ask him how challenging it is to tell the story of Duryodhana who has such a strong negative connotation and Issar says, “I always believe history has been written by victors. But the vanquished also have a story to tell and their side of the story must also be heard. In the Mahabharat, no character is completely black or completely white, all are grey characters.”
This show is mounted on a big stage and the magnificent production will be showcased on spectacular larger than life sets, complete with high voltage drama, sound and lights. To enhance the viewing experience, the music has been specially composed and recorded as well. “People will be mesmerized - the set, settings, the LED backdrops, the live background score, the title track, the costumes, performances, direction the writing of the script and the high quality of the production will mesmerise the audience. It is a never seen before play and will be a 3D Celloulide experience with actors performing live and I would say more than a play it is a grand show.”
Looking ahead, Issar is writing and directing a web series for Salman Khan which is being produced by him as well as am also writing another magnum opus play called ‘Ramayan Jai Shree Ram.’ Apart from doing a web series he also has many films lined up including one in Kannada also.
What: Mahabharat by Puneet Issar
When: October 5 and 6, 3 pm and 7 pm
Where: BR Ambedkar Bhavan, Millers Road, Vasanth Nagar, Bangalore